UK Politics

Nigel Farage affair claim 'beneath contempt', says UKIP

Nigel Farage listens to the comments from Nikki Sinclaire
Image caption Nigel Farage listens to the comments from Nikki Sinclaire

The UK Independence Party has said claims that leader Nigel Farage had an affair with one of his assistants are "beneath contempt".

In the European Parliament, MEP Nikki Sinclaire said he was employing "former mistress" Annabelle Fuller and this was not a "fair use of taxpayers' money".

Ms Fuller responded that she had been a victim of "false allegations", over which the press had "hounded" her.

Ms Sinclaire left UKIP in 2010 in a row with the leadership.

She was expelled after refusing to be part of the multi-national Europe of Freedom and Democracy group it had joined in the European Parliament.

Ms Fuller worked for UKIP before leaving for a stint as a public relations consultant, and has now returned as a spokeswoman for the party.

Ms Sinclaire now represents the West Midlands in the European Parliament as part of the We Demand a Referendum Now party, which she set up.

Image caption Nikki Sinclaire left UKIP in 2010

She said during a plenary session of the European Parliament: "With unemployment still a problem across Europe and indeed across the UK, does Mr Farage think it is a fair use of taxpayers' money, namely his secretarial allowance, not only to employ his wife Kirsten but his former mistress Annabelle Fuller?

"Is this a responsible use of taxpayers' money, Mr Farage?"

Mr Farage responded by saying: "I don't want to answer that at all, thank you."

In a statement afterwards, Miss Fuller said: "I have been continually hounded by the press with these false allegations since 2006 including having journalists camp outside my house.

"It's a shame that as a woman I am considered fair game for accusations of alleged affairs. It's hard enough being a woman in politics without having to justify why I am employed.

"It is safe to say that this would not have happened if I was a man. Surely this is something that Nikki Sinclaire should have considered."

A UKIP spokesman said: "The comments by Sinclaire are beneath contempt, and that person has abused parliamentary privilege to do so."

He added: "Sinclaire has been saying the same thing to anyone who would listen since 2006. Regarding Miss Fuller, Mr Farage has been asked about this before and the answer has always been 'No, it is false.'"