A Midland MEP has accused her former UKIP colleague Nigel Farage of employing both his wife and former mistress using public money.
MEP Nikki Sinclaire, a former UKIP member who left the party after a row with Mr Farage, challenged the UKIP leader in the European Parliament.
She pointed out that he employed his German-born wife Kirsten Farage using his EU parliamentary assistant allowance. She is paid up to £30,000.
And Ms Sinclaire also pointed out that he employed spin doctor Annabelle Fuller as his Head of Communications at public expense – and claimed Miss Fuller was his former mistress.
She asked: “With unemployment still a problem across Europe and indeed the UK, does Mr Farage think it is a fair use of taxpayers’ money not only to employ his wife Kirsten but his former Mistress Annabelle Fuller? Is this a responsible use of taxpayer’s money, Mr Farage?”
The UKIP leader declined to answer, saying: “I don’t want to answer that at all.”
He later issued a statement, saying: “It’s absolute nonsense. It’s just a malicious attempt to do damage. Every single national newspaper has asked me that since 2006. The answer is the same.”
Ms Sinclaire was elected as a UKIP MEP in the West Midlands in 2009 but fell out with the leadership over UKIP’s decision to sit with the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in the European Parliament, which included parties she considered to be racist and extremist.
She was expelled from the party in 2010 and won a sex discrimination claim against her former colleagues in 2013.
Her broadside against Mr Farage comes days after UKIP said its use of European Union taxpayers’ money was “entirely legitimate and within the rules” following claims it may have breached Brussels regulations.
A national newspaper has reported claims that public money provided to the Europe of Freedom and Democracy grouping had been used to fund UKIP’s political activities, which is against European parliamentary rules.
The report quoted a former party official as saying money was paid directly to his bank account from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group.
A UKIP spokesman insisted however that the party had “always worked hard to ensure that demarcations between Europe of Freedom and Democracy employees and party employees are properly observed” and defended its actions.
Miss Fuller is a former UKIP press officer but gave up the role in 2008 before returning to work for the party last year.