Farage says he might support new European Union membership referendum

Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption Gareth Bennett Nigel Farage has effectively joined the Remain camp

The allegations centred around claims that EU-funded parliamentary assistants were actually working for the national party and doing work unrelated to the duties of MEPs.

Mr Farage and seven other UKIP MEPs were investigated by the European Parliament after the allegations surfaced a year ago.

The investigation found that Christopher Adams, besides being Farage's personal parliamentary assistant, was also carrying out work for the Euroskeptic party as its national nominating officer.

The EU inquiry focused on the role of an assistant, Christopher Adams, who was engaged to work with the Member of European Parliament (MEP).

A source in the European parliament told the Guardian: "Since 1 January [2018] the European parliament has withheld 50% in order to recoup the €40,000 due in salary that was paid to Christopher Adams and which can not be proved by Farage".

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"Any hint of a second referendum will undermine the negotiations, because it will give [EU chief negotiator] Michel Barnier an incentive to present the United Kingdom with a bad deal, hoping that Britain votes to stay in, to continue our net contribution to the European Union budget". One of Ukip's most senior figures, Roger Helmer, stood down last summer after an investigation that resulted in a demand to repay about £100,000 for alleged misuse of public funds.

Mr Helmer denied any wrongdoing but gave no explanation as to why he was stepping down.

"There is a vindictive campaign by the European Parliament of selective persecution of eurosceptic MEPs, parties and groups", an EFDD spokesman said on Friday. They dismissed the salary cut as a "politically-motivated assault".

Europhiles seized on the remarks, which Mr Farage later backtracked on, hailing them as a "game changer" in their crusade to keep Britain in the EU. Part-time assistants need to have second jobs, paid and voluntary, vetted by European parliament authorities to prevent a conflict of interest. Farage's monthly, pre-tax salary, according to the European Parliament website, is €8,484 ($10,295) per month.

The Guardian that Mr Farage will now pay back £35,500 (€40,000) through having his salary withheld, after auditors concluded he had indeed misspent the funds.

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