He is the self-styled bane of the establishment – and has even made enemies in his own party. But could claims of an assassination attempt on the Ukip leader, Nigel Farage, have been exaggerated?
The Marmite politician – who survived a light aircraft crash five years ago – told the Mail on Sunday about his latest brush with death on a French motorway in Dunkirk after a wheel came loose on his Volvo V70, causing him to lose control of the vehicle.
Farage said he was forced to switch the hazard lights on, slow the car on the motorway and jump over a wall by the side of the carriageway to get to safety.
“The French police looked at it and said that sometimes nuts on one wheel can come a bit loose – but not on all four [wheels],” he said, alluding to sinister motives. He added that French mechanics were convinced of foul play, but said that he had decided not to pursue the matter, stoically declaring: “Nothing surprises me.”
However, it emerged on Monday that the V70 was one of four Volvo models subject to a recall relating to their wheels in 2010. The recall notice, which Volvo said was for 186 vehicles, stated: “It has been identified that the standard wheel securing bolts may not have undergone the correct hardening process. This will result in corrosion, a noise and/or vibration. If this condition is not rectified, there is a possibility that the wheel may become loose and detach.”
From pictures printed in the Mail on Sunday, Farage’s car appears to be a third-generation V70, which first went on sale in 2007. The wheel problem was fixed in the 2010 recall and current models are not affected.
However, it is impossible to verify whether the Ukip leader’s car was one of those due to be recalled without knowing its unique vehicle identification number.
The Guardian has asked Ukip whether Farage’s car was subject to the recall and whether the party’s leader had had the fault fixed at that time. The party had not responded by the time of publication.
Eric Fouard, the prosecutor for Dunkirk, told the MoS he was not aware of any police investigation into the incident.
Asked by the MoS whether he had received death threats, Farage responded: “Of course, it’s not a particularly easy game, this.” But he said that he had no idea who might be behind an assassination attempt.
On polling day in 2010, he was involved in an accident when he had to be pulled from the crushed cockpit of a plane after an election banner caused it to crash.
This article was written by Haroon Siddique, for theguardian.com on Monday 4th January 2016 18.10 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010