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Desmond 'to donate £300k to Ukip'

Nigel Farage's general election war chest has been boosted by a reported £300,000 donation pledge from newspaper proprietor Richard Desmond.

Mr Desmond is believed to have discussed the gift at a meeting with the Ukip leader earlier this month. Sky News said it was not clear whether the money had yet been handed over.

The Daily Express and Sunday Express have been strongly supportive of Ukip's stance on immigration and Europe.

A Ukip spokesman said: "We do not discuss donations.

"If we receive them we report them to the Electoral Commission in accordance with legislation."

Ukip has received a number of donations as the May contest approaches, although it still lags behind the three traditional parties when it comes to fundraising.

Former Conservative supporter Arron Banks pledged £1 million in October, while businessman Paul Sykes has promised over £2 million.

The party is targeting resources on around 100 seats at the election, encouraged by a surge in the polls and victories in the Clacton and Rochester & Strood by-elections.

A disciplinary hearing for general secretary Roger Bird, who was suspended this week amid claims of "impropriety" related to former parliamentary candidate Natasha Bolter, is being held today.

Ms Bolter claims she was propositioned by Mr Bird during her candidate screening, but he insists they had a consensual relationship after she was approved.

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