Nigel Farage lied about our af­fair to save Brexit

Po­lit­i­cal aide to ex-Ukip leader comes clean... about the clan­des­tine af­fair that drove her to de­spair

The Mail on Sunday - - Front Page - By Paul Ca­ha­lan and An­gella John­son

NIGEL FARAGE has sys­tem­at­i­cally lied about an af­fair with a vul­ner­a­ble for­mer aide span­ning more than a decade, The Mail on Sun­day can re­veal.

The for­mer Ukip leader is ac­cused of breath­tak­ing hypocrisy by his for­mer lover, who claims she was told to keep the re­la­tion­ship se­cret at all costs – to help save Brexit.

In an ex­plo­sive in­ter­view, Annabelle Fuller, once a speech­writer and trusted ad­viser to the party and its leader, says she and Farage, a mar­ried man more than 17 years her se­nior, had a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship dat­ing from 2004 un­til Oc­to­ber last year.

Farage, a Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment, has him­self spo­ken of the ‘be­trayal’ of fam­ily val­ues in Bri­tish so­ci­ety.

In a se­ries of dev­as­tat­ing ad­mis­sions about their time to­gether, Ms Fuller dis­closes:

Sex­ual en­coun­ters in MEP of­fices in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment as re­cently as last year;

A se­cret love let­ter in which Farage de­clares his de­vo­tion to her with ‘heart and body’;

That the af­fair helped pro­pel her into de­pres­sion, self- harm and sui­cide at­tempts;

That Farage’s wife Kirsten – now es­tranged – was be­hind Ms Fuller’s dra­matic ejec­tion from a Ukip cel­e­bra­tion party in 2014.

Ms Fuller’s de­ci­sion to speak out is all the more re­mark­able as both

‘We de­cided to lie about it right from the start’

she and Farage have re­peat­edly dis­missed ru­mours of a li­ai­son. Farage has de­scribed the claims as ‘ma­li­cious and cow­ardly’.

Within the party, how­ever, knowl­edge of the re­la­tion­ship ap­pears to have been wide­spread. One MEP, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, said: ‘It wasn’t just a fling or a one-night stand – he was think­ing about leav­ing his wife for her. I have spo­ken to Nigel about the re­la­tion­ship in the past and know Annabelle and Nigel were still in­volved sex­u­ally un­til late last year.

‘Ev­ery­one in the party knew they were hav­ing an af­fair.’

It is also a re­la­tion­ship starkly at odds with Ukip’s con­sis­tent pro­mo­tion of fam­ily val­ues.

To­day, in a per­cep­tive and at times trou­bling ac­count of their de­cep­tion, Ms Fuller de­scribes how the af­fair helped drive her into men­tal ill­ness and life-threat­en­ing self­harm be­fore a suc­cess­ful course of ther­apy. She be­lieves that only by telling the truth will she be able to put her life ‘ back on track’.

‘Right from the be­gin­ning, ly­ing about the af­fair was a strat­egy we de­cided on,’ she says.

‘We had many con­ver­sa­tions about it, even in the past cou­ple of years. He told me I had to keep quiet. I said to him, “Do you have any idea how painful it is for me?”, and he would say “Yes”.

‘Nigel and I both knew we had to keep quiet to save Brexit . We are both liars and hyp­ocrites but t he rea­son I had to lie through­out the years was that I didn’t want Ukip or the cause we were fight­ing for to be dam­aged. ‘He said, “They will use any­thing they can to stop this, they will use any­thing they can to stop me. We are go­ing up against the Es­tab­lish­ment here. They will come af­ter you.” ’ Although the re­la­tion­ship was con­sen­sual, Ms Fuller be­lieves Farage should have taken more re­spon­si­bil­ity for his ac­tions. She de­scribes the re­la­tion­ship as grossly in­ap­pro­pri­ate, par­tic­u­larly in re­cent years when, she says, she was in a state of deep­en­ing men­tal ill­ness, later di­ag­nosed as post-trau­matic stress. Speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity, a close mem­ber of her fam­ily ex­pressed anger at the way events played out, say­ing: ‘Nigel has acted ap­pallingly with re­gard to Annabelle. In 2005, he seemed to care for her but by last year he was treat­ing her as an af­ter­thought. De­spite her nearly com­mit­ting sui­cide, he still wanted her to be his sex­ual part­ner as late as last year. He is a com­plete nar­cis­sist and I’m pleased Annabelle can fi­nally leave him in the past.’

There was a time when Annabelle Fuller was a highly re­garded mem­ber of the Ukip team; some­one who, at the height of her ca­reer, would ad­vise Farage, brief the me­dia and write ar­ti­cles for na­tional news­pa­pers un­der her boss’s name.

To­day, she works be­hind the bar of a coun­try pub near Bath.

It has taken a year of ther­apy to reach the point where she can speak openly about a re­la­tion­ship which be­gan in 2004 in Brus­sels, where an up- and- com­ing Nigel Farage was a Mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment. Then 23, Annabelle, who had just com­pleted a mas­ter’s de­gree in in­ter­na­tional re­la­tions, had started work­ing as a Ukip par­lia­men­tary re­searcher.

‘I was in­tro­duced to Nigel in the sec­ond week of the job and he was po­lite but cool,’ she re­calls.

‘Look­ing back, I don’t re­call an im­me­di­ate spark of at­trac­tion on either side. To me, he was just an­other mid­dle-aged man in a suit.’

‘He was fun with a wicked sense of hu­mour’

Af­ter work, like hun­dreds of oth­ers, she would end up in one of the bars around the Par­lia­ment build­ing, the kind where Farage held court. And she found her­self drawn to the older, charis­matic politi­cian. Soon, the two were spend­ing a lot of time to­gether.

‘He was fun, with a wicked sense of hu­mour,’ she says.

‘He had the best jokes and eas­ily the most in­ter­est­ing po­lit­i­cal sto­ries. I loved lis­ten­ing to him. I was cap­ti­vated by his world­li­ness.’

For sev­eral months, the friend­ship re­mained pla­tonic, with Farage some­thing of a fa­ther fig­ure. The vul­ner­a­ble young woman – with a teenage his­tory of bu­limia, con­cerns about body im­age and self-es­teem – came in­creas­ingly to rely upon him.

‘He took me into his con­fi­dence about work and party mat­ters and would of­ten ask for my ad­vice. I

THE pen­dant Farage gave to Ms Fuller to re­place the stolen one he gave her for her 25th birth­day in 2006. Above, with the Vivi­enne West­wood coat he gave her for Christ­mas in 2010 was young but I was bright and I was ea­ger to get stuck in.

‘I did re­search for him – ad­vis­ing him and brief­ing MEPs on how they were vot­ing. I also helped with his speeches an d par­lia­men­tary amend­ments. Our first kiss took place in Brus­sels in 2005. It was on my fore­head. He was just say­ing good­night, but it felt very com­fort­ing. It didn’t feel im­proper.

‘ Our re­la­tion­ship grew very slowly over sev­eral months. Af­ter a while, he took me into his con­fi­dence – per­son­ally and po­lit­i­cally.’

Farage had been with his wife, Ger­man-born Kirsten, since 1999, but he told Ms Fuller that it was a mar­riage in name only.

‘He said that it was an un­happy re­la­tion­ship and had been for some time. He told me the mar­riage was not a real one.’

Then, in April 2005, Farage asked Ms Fuller to work on his – as it would prove – un­suc­cess­ful Gen­eral Elec­tion cam­paign in Thanet South, Kent, as a vol­un­teer.

‘ I was flat­tered. Nigel vis­ited ev­ery cou­ple of days while we cam­paigned and some­times stayed overnight in a ho­tel in Broad­stairs.’

One evening, Farage in­vited a group to din­ner at his ho­tel af­ter a day of can­vass­ing. As the evening went on, j ust t hree of t hem re­mained – Farage, Ms Fuller and one other per­son.

‘ Nigel of­fered us a so­fabed to sleep on be­cause there were no taxis, but I was the only one to take up the of­fer,’ she re­calls. ‘I knew what would hap­pen if I stayed and I wanted it to. When we got up­stairs I took one look at the room and said, “but there’s no so­fabed,’’ and we both just laughed.’

It was not, per­haps, the most ro­man­tic en­counter.

‘I told him I needed some­thing to change into and he pro­duced a white T- shirt from his suit­case. Then I went to the bath­room, took off my make-up and used his tooth­brush. When I came back into the bed­room he was in bed wear­ing a white T-shirt and white Y-fronts. I got in and said “budge-up”. It was very English.

‘It was gen­tle. Our clothes came off in the dark. He said, “you’re so beau­ti­ful”. We drifted off to sleep in each other’s arms.’ The fol­low­ing morn­ing, he was up early, as ever.

‘He asked how I was, and said, “Do you re­gret it?” I said no and he said nei­ther did he and that my a*** had looked amaz­ing in the moon­light.’

The re­la­tion­ship grew, but as it did so, the terms be­came clear: Farage told her it had to re­main a se­cret.

‘He said he wanted me to go into a re­la­tion­ship with my eyes wide open. That he really liked me but he warned me that if peo­ple found out they would make my life hell.

‘I was al­ready com­mit­ted. I knew what we had was very spe­cial. I was in love. I was happy.’

From then on, she says, they were a ‘proper cou­ple’ and Farage moved into her flat in the Mael­beek area when­ever he was in Brus­sels.

‘He kept clothes and some shoes there. We still went out with oth­ers as a group and I think ev­ery­one knew by then that we were an item.’

For a while, Ms Fuller hap­pily played the part of a sur­ro­gate wife, or­gan­is­ing his life, both do­mes­tic and pro­fes­sional.

‘He was rather messy and left wet tow­els on the floor for me to pick up ev­ery morn­ing. He could also be very ab­sent-minded at times.’

Much later in the re­la­tion­ship, for ex­am­ple, he com­plained of ear­ache while at­tend­ing the 2014 party con­fer­ence in Torquay.

‘I found out it was be­cause he had left a bro­ken Q-tip stuck in his ear for days,’ she says.

He was never too ab­sent-minded for one im­por­tant task, how­ever.

‘He was re­li­gious about pol­ish­ing his shoes,’ she says.

‘And he seemed to have an aw­ful lot. He told me he usu­ally did the job him­self on a Sun­day.’

For a while, she was happy to re­main a mis­tress, but as time passed her feel­ings changed.

‘In those early days, he was my rea­son for get­ting up in the morn­ings. When­ever Nigel left to go back to Eng­land, it was hor­ri­ble and I was des­o­late.

‘He couldn’t even call me on the phone be­cause he said he was with his fam­ily. It was very hard for me to know that he had an­other life.

‘Kirsten knew he was see­ing me be­cause some­one in the party told her. I used to ring the home in Kent and she would hang up on me, or I could hear her hand the phone to Nigel with an acer­bic “it’s her”.’

Grow­ing in­creas­ingly depressed by her po­si­tion as ‘ t he other woman’, Ms Fuller says she started to self-harm.

‘ I started to cut my­self some months i nt o t he re­la­tion­ship be­cause I couldn’t ar­tic­u­late how I felt. When I told Nigel, he was

‘He was in bed wear­ing white Y-fronts’ ‘I told him I didn’t want to be the other woman’

dev­as­tated and blamed him­self. He begged me to stop and said that he loved me.’

In the sum­mer of 2006, Ms Fuller moved back to Bri­tain to work in Ukip’s Lon­don press of­fice where, although she still strug­gled with the clan­des­tine na­ture of the af­fair, the two con­tin­ued as lovers.

On Novem­ber 3, her 25th birth­day, Farage gave her a di­a­mond pen­dant as a to­ken of their feel­ings for each other. When that was stolen, he paid for a sap­phire and di­a­mond re­place­ment.

But by the au­tumn, Ms Fuller de­cided to end the re­la­tion­ship and told him as they went for a walk on Beachy Head in East Sus­sex.

‘I was quite stand-off­ish with him and said that it wasn’t work­ing. I didn’t want to be the other woman any more. I loved him but I wanted a proper re­la­tion­ship.’

He said he un­der­stood, but that his chil­dren were his pri­or­ity.

A week later, she re­ceived a let­ter from Farage – dated Novem­ber 25, 2006 – which she still keeps.

‘No one will ever love, un­der­stand or care for you the way that I do,’ it reads. ‘I adore you and the bond of friend­ship that we have shared. What I dread is not be­ing close to you… I fear that this may not go away for many years.’

Plead­ing with her to take care of her­self, he signed off the let­ter with: ‘I only wish that I had been free for you. With all my heart and body. Love Nigel x’.

She says: ‘I was an­gry. He was telling me he loved me and I wanted it to be a clean break.

‘I wanted a shot at a nor­mal life. It was the first time he had de­clared his feel­ings so openly. But it was too lit­tle too late. I had to end it for me and for him but I know it hurt

him very badly. We kept in touch be­cause I could not imag­ine him not be­ing in my life.’

She em­barked on a new re­la­tion­ship, but this foundered. And by De­cem­ber 2007, she was back in a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with Farage – which con­tin­ued even when she quit the party in the au­tumn of 2008 to work with mil­i­tary char­i­ties in the UK.

‘I’d hoped to make a fresh start but even then I found I couldn’t cut the ties to him. He was the only per­son I could rely on.’

Be­sides, she found that she missed the ex­cite­ment of pol­i­tics and, in 2010, she asked Farage if she could go back and work for him, help­ing his suc­cess­ful cam­paign to be­come leader of the party, be­fore work­ing as his press aide.

At Christ­mas, he bought her a strik­ing blood-red Vivi­enne West­wood coat from Har­rods.

By now, how­ever, there was a fur­ther com­pli­ca­tion. Farage had met a French woman called Laure Fer­rari, 16 years his ju­nior. (For years, Farage de­nied they were to­gether, although in re­cent weeks his aides have con­firmed the re­la­tion­ship, as first re­ported in The Mail on Sun­day.)

Ms Fuller says she and Farage kept their re­la­tion­ship strictly pro­fes­sional be­tween 2010 and 2012, how­ever the sex re­sumed from 2013 on­wards – only this time she felt there was a more sor­did as­pect to the li­aisons.

‘He used to ask for hand mas­sages and say he had all the stress in his hands. I used to give him them and we would talk and some­times he would say, “how about here”, point­ing down at his trousers.’

Then, in March 2014, came a bomb­shell in­ter­ven­tion on the floor of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment when then Ukip MEP Nikki Sin­claire used par­lia­men­tary priv­i­lege to al­lege that Ms Fuller was ‘Farage’s mis­tress’, a claim he re­fused to an­swer im­me­di­ately.

He l ater branded her ac­tion ‘cow­ardly and ma­li­cious’.

‘I have spo­ken to ev­ery na­tional news­pa­per on this is­sue and the an­swer re­mains the same as it was in 2006,’ he said. ‘The an­swer is no.’

In May 2014, Ukip caused a mi­nor earth­quake by win­ning 24 seats in the Euro­pean elec­tions, beat­ing both Labour and the Con­ser­va­tives, a re­sult which left Farage and his col­leagues eu­phoric.

For Ms Fuller, how­ever, it would prove a turn­ing point.

Although she had worked on the elec­tion cam­paign, she was or­dered to leave a cel­e­bra­tion party near St James’s Park in Cen­tral Lon­don.

‘I was told by one of Nigel’s se­cu­rity staff that I had to leave on the or­ders of Kirsten Farage and that she would have me dragged out by my hair if I didn’t go,’ she says. ‘So I did, so as not to cause a scene. It was the cul­mi­na­tion of how ut­terly cut off I was. I felt ashamed, use­less and alone.’

She says the hu­mil­i­a­tion helped trig­ger a sui­cide at­tempt, the first of four dan­ger­ous episodes of self­harm in the course of the next few years. ‘I went home and slit my wrists and burnt my­self with a cig­a­rette re­peat­edly on my arm.

‘I went to hos­pi­tal af­ter a friend called an am­bu­lance.’

Even so, the sex­ual en­coun­ters with Farage would con­tinue.

‘He once turned up at my house in Wilt­shire in 2015, a base­ball cap pulled down over his eyes,’ she says. ‘He wanted sex. I told him no. But as usual Nigel was very in­sis­tent. We didn’t end up hav­ing full sex, but I did end up feel­ing like a hooker af­ter he left.’

And when he propo­si­tioned her in an MEP’s of­fice in Brus­sels in the spring of 2016, she once again ac­cepted. ‘ He came in and shut the door. He was ly­ing on the sofa, we were talk­ing and he said he was horny.

‘Very ex­plic­itly, he said, “I’m so stressed” and asked me to give him a hand mas­sage, which was al­ways fol­lowed by me per­form­ing a sex act on him. It was over and done with quickly. At that point I was be­yond car­ing.’

The last en­counter took place in Stras­bourg on Oc­to­ber 4 last year. Again he en­tered the of­fice when she was alone. ‘He gave me a kiss. I wanted af­fec­tion. And I did as he asked.

‘But I felt dis­gusted with my­self. The next day I learnt the EU was in­ves­ti­gat­ing some ex­penses and I flipped. That com­bined with the Nigel sit­u­a­tion left me feel­ing that life was point­less. So I cut my wrist in the ladies’ toi­let of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment and ended up in hos­pi­tal in France.’

Through­out this time, she says, the pres­sure to main­tain the lie be­came un­bear­able – the more so since they had been ‘outed’ on the floor of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment.

‘Nigel said we could keep it out of the me­dia if both of us kept deny­ing it and warned that it would be much worse for me if it came out.

‘I know we had many con­ver­sa­tions about it in 2015 and 2016 when we were stand­ing in my gar­den in the West Coun­try. He told me we must keep any con­tro­versy out of the head­lines un­til af­ter Brexit.

‘The other month some­one called me dam­aged, and that’s how I feel. A stupid girl.

‘I feel used and dis­carded. Now, I want to tell the truth so that I can claim my life back.

‘ I’m fed up with liv­ing in the shadow of my for­mer self. I’m tired of be­ing ashamed of who I am. I’m not vain enough to think “He couldn’t help him­self,” but I do think it was up to him to not to get in­volved with me.

Last night, Mr Farage de­clined to con­firm or deny that he had had an af­fair with Ms Fuller. In a state­ment he said: ‘At the time of Ms Fuller’s em­ploy­ment the party did not know there was a his­tory of men­tal ill­ness and other se­ri­ous per­sonal is­sues.

‘I al­ways tried to help her, recog­nis­ing that she had abil­ity, and pre­vented her from be­ing fired on sev­eral oc­ca­sions.’

In his book, The Pur­ple Rev­o­lu­tion: The Year That Changed Ev­ery­thing, Farage cred­its a teacher at Dul­wich Col­lege for in­still­ing in him a rule for life, ‘the 11th com­mand­ment: don’t get caught’.

To­day, that com­mand­ment lies shat­tered. And Farage, Ms Fuller says, has only him­self to blame.

‘I went home and slit my wrists and burnt my­self’ ‘He wanted sex... he was very in­sis­tent’

LOVER: For­mer Ukip aide Annabelle Fuller

ES­TRANGED WIFE: Kirsten Farage

SMILES: Mr Farage and Ms Fuller at the height of Ukip’s pop­u­lar­ity in 2012

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