Nigel Farage denies using UK taxpayers' money for security at Ukip events
Ukip leader Nigel Farage has denied using British taxpayers' cash to pay for bodyguards.
Mr Farage was speaking after the Daily Mail reported Ukip used EU money to fund £58,000 worth of security at five events last autumn.
The Ukip leader insisted the money was not for his personal protection, but to pay for security at party meetings.
Asked if it was a good use of public funds, Mr Farage said: "It's not public money, I get zero public money from this country. The fact that the Germans help subsidise our public meetings in this country through their EU contributions - justified entirely."
Mr Farage, who complains that British taxpayers send £350 million to Brussels each week, said he gets no help from the UK Government for his protection.
"I am the only party leader, or senior political figure, who gets no help, zero help, from the British Government, even after my family was attacked last year, I get no help at all.
"So, we have to fund the whole thing privately, which for a party the size of ours is very difficult indeed," Mr Farage said.
The Ukip leader insisted the costs involved related to "big public events" held by the party.
"That's less about me and more about the crowds that come, and making sure they are checked, and searched, and that good people who come along to attend political meetings can do so feeling safe.
"Do any of our other MEP's hold public meetings around the country where anyone can come? No," Mr Farage said.
One of the events where security costs were claimed for was held in a darts arena in Essex where there were no protesters , and duties for personnel included "ensuring refreshments have been arranged", according to the Daily Mail.
The Ukip leader's remarks came he unveiled a new election poster outside EU offices in London ahead of this week's elections in the capital.
"Breakthrough Thursday - that's what we are after. At the moment we have no representation in London, Cardiff, Belfast, or Edinburgh, and I am absolutely confident that we will breakthrough into London, Wales, Northern Ireland - and Scotland, there's a real chance too.
"According to the opinion polls we are pretty much the highest we have ever been in the history of the party," Mr Farage said.
The money came from £2.5 million allocated by the EU to the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) grouping in the European Parliament of which Ukip is a member.
The Daily Mail reported that a European Parliament official said it was up to the group how it spent the money given to it by EU taxpayers.
The EFDD funded Mr Farage's speaking tour, including the security costs.
A spokesman for the group told the newspaper: "All spending on the speaking tour in late 2015 came out of the delegation budget in conformity to the rules. Everything is completely above board and was done before the regulated referendum period."
Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said the spending showed Ukip had taken the British taxpayer "for a ride".