Controversial MEP Nigel Farage
has been fined 10 days' MEP allowances, almost €3000, for his verbal rant in the European Parliament chamber last Wednesday in which he said Herman van Rompuy, the newly chosen President of the European Council, had “as much charisma as a wet rag”, the appearance of a “second-rate bank clerk” and came from Belgium, “a non-country”.
The UKIP leader who serves as an MEP for the South-East, was summoned to Parliament President Jerzy Buzek
’s office this morning to explain himself and hear the sanctions that would be imposed upon him following his comments, which could have seen him suspended from the chamber.
After the meeting, Mr Farage used his Twitter page
to declare: "Sentence passed, letter from parliament. President: Maximum allowable fine 2,980 Euros. Free speech is expensive in Brussels.
" He has said he would appeal against the fine.
"I have been called a great many things in my time – that's politics,
" he later told the Daily Politics programme
. "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?,
” he said.
"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."
In a statement on his official site
, the Parliament's President Mr Buzek said he explained to Mr Farage in their meeting that he “attaches the highest importance to freedom of speech. Members are completely free to express their views on the policies and institutions of the European Union, but not to insult colleagues or special guests, such as Mr Van Rompuy, on the floor of the chamber.
The President stated that such behaviour was inappropriate and disrespectful to the dignity of the Parliament and some of the comments which Mr Farage had made were offensive to Mr Rompuy personally and to Belgium as a country.
"I defend absolutely Mr Farage's right to disagree about the policy or institutions of the Union,
” he said, “but not to personally insult our guests in the European Parliament or the country from which they may come. His behaviour towards Mr Rompuy was inappropriate, unparliamentary and insulting to the dignity of the house.
The UKIP leader denied accusations made by the English press that this was a publicity stunt to increase his profile ahead of contesting the seat held by the Speaker of the Commons John Bercow
in the next General Election. He did confirm however that he will take his seat in Strasbourg for the next European Parliament session next week.
It will be interesting to hear what he has to say on this matter in his allotted speaking time…