Ukip has suspended one of its highest profile politicians, Suzanne Evans, for six months over suspected disloyalty to the party.
Her suspension by the party’s disciplinary committee, allegedly for a number of specific complaints, comes just weeks after she was sacked as deputy chairwoman and then welfare spokeswoman.
Evans mounted an unsuccessful legal challenge against the suspension, but some of her allies have now launched a petition to get the suspension overturned.
Patrick O’Flynn, a Ukip MEP and former communications chief for Farage, led the efforts to get her reinstated.
She was subject to the disciplinary action for speaking out against a Ukip candidate and for presenting herself as a party spokesman without authority.
Her lawyers said the suspension was disproportionate as it stopped her running in the London assembly elections in May.
But a judge refused to grant an injunction that would have prevented the suspension taking effect until after the assembly nominations closed at the end of March.
Evans was once a favourite of Farage, who let her write the party’s 2015 manifesto and briefly recommended her as interim leader until he “unresigned” days later.
However, she has since incurred his displeasure because his allies suspected she was part of a group planning a coup against his leadership, something she and others have strongly denied.
Farage described Evans’s suspension as unfortunate but did not go into the reasons for the action.
“She is somebody who appeared front-facing for the party, gave Ukip a good look in many ways,” he told BBC News. “Sometimes people fall out with their own parties and sometimes they say and do things that perhaps they shouldn’t.”
Farage told Sky News he had no part in the suspension but it was for a “long, long series of things” and that she had been “getting increasingly personal herself about this and her relationship with me and doing it consistently since May”.
“Sometimes in life you just get into a bad place and can’t get yourself out of that. I’ve watched as she’s gone from being a popular figure in Ukip to become a very unpopular figure by constantly criticising, not just the leader, but the party [and] its direction.
“It’s sad but these things happen: in families we all see it. In life, these things happen.”
Evans’ request to the high court to stop her suspension claimed it was the result of a vendetta against her and that rules were being abused to stifle her progression.
Evans is seen by the leadership as a supporter of Carswell, who has also displeased Farage in recent months over his support for the Vote Leave campaign in the UK-EU referendum rather than the Leave.EU group run by the Ukip donor Arron Banks.
Farage described Carswell as “irrelevant” earlier this month and said he did not care what the MP did.
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