Farage fined for insulting EU President

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The Independent Online

Nigel Farage, the Ukip MEP, has been fined £2,700 for his prolonged personal attack on Herman Van Rompuy, Europe's President, last week.

European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek announced yesterday that Mr Farage had been fined 10 days of MEP allowances for his behaviour for which he refused to apologise.

On his Twitter page, Mr Farage wrote: "Sentence passed, letter from Parliament President: maximum allowable fine €2,980. Free speech is expensive in Brussels." He is planning to appeal against the fine.

Mr Buzek said: "I defend absolutely Mr Farage's right to disagree about the policy or institutions of the Union, but not to personally insult our guests in the European Parliament or the country from which they may come. His behaviour towards Mr Van Rompuy was inappropriate, unparliamentary and insulting to the dignity of the House."

He went on: "As a former member of the Polish Solidarity movement, I myself fought for free speech as the absolute cornerstone of a democratic society. But with freedom comes responsibility – in this case, to respect the dignity of others and of our institutions."

Mr Farage was unrepentant, insisting he did not need to apologise to Mr Van Rompuy despite saying he possessed "all the charisma of a damp rag and the appearance of a low-grade bank clerk". Neither would he apologise to the people of Belgium for describing their homeland as a "non-country".

Following his official reprimand, Mr Farage said: "I have been called a great many things in my time – that's politics. I am not going to apologise to Mr Van Rompuy and I am not going to apologise to the people of Belgium. Surely I am entitled to have a dig at a man representing 500 million people, who is paid more than the US President, and who has not been elected by us?

"As for apologising to the Belgian people, look, I'm not going to do that for what I said about their country, which doesn't have proper political parties. A lot of Belgians agree with me. I've had a lot of support for my remarks from a lot of Belgians who say to me that they don't like Belgium the way it is," he said.

Asked if he had been blunt with Mr Buzek during their 15-minute meeting, Mr Farage replied: "No, I was very polite. But I did explain that perhaps his definition of democracy and freedom of speech is different from mine."

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