A Conservative election candidate has sparked a row by drawing attention to a comparison between the Green Party and the BNP on Twitter.

Charlotte Vere, who will stand for the Tories in Brighton Pavilion in this year's General Election, brought up the reference in a debate with a Green supporter on the networking website.

A Green Party spokesman yesterday responded by saying it wanted to fight a clean campaign and did not want to get involved in mud-slinging.

Election campaign director Paul Steedman said the BNP comparison was the kind of "cheap nonsense" his party wanted to avoid.

The Brighton Pavilion constituency is the Greens' main General Election target, where party leader Caroline Lucas will stand.

The row started after Mrs Vere complimented Dr Lucas's new-look website and asked if she would be using it to publish her expenses as an MEP.

In a debate that followed between Mrs Vere and Leicester Green supporter Matthew Hulbert, the Tory candidate forwarded a posting by another Twitter user, Thomas Byrne.

It directed readers to a website linking the policies of the Greens to the far-right BNP.

Mrs Vere yesterday said she had reposted the message but it was not her view.

She said: "I don't believe it, I just thought it was interesting. When I was at school my history teacher used to say there was not much between the far-left and the far-right."