POLITICS
26/02/2015 21:04 GMT | Updated 26/02/2015 21:59 GMT

Nigel Farage Requests Police Bodyguards For Ukip General Election Campaign

Nigel Farage has reportedly requested police bodyguards during the general election, following a series of incidents on the campaign trail and having been hit on the head and heckled in the past.

The BBC said Farage's party Ukip had lodged a formal application with the Home Office for taxpayer-funded officers to ensure its leader's safety.

MI5 and the police will now assess if Mr Farage needs specially-trained officers to protect him for the campaign - which will begin in earnest after March 30th when parliament is dissolved.

farage pub edinburgh

Farage escorted by police after being heckled in a Scottish pub last year

Mr Farage has previously pointed out that other parties are given state help when Ukip has to pay for his transport and security from its own funds.

He revealed last year that a previous request had been denied.

The police service which would likely protect Mr Farage if the request is granted would be what was known as Special Branch, now fused with Scotland Yard's anti-terrorist branch, whose role is to protect high-profile VIPs from threats using intelligence.

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Usually, the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister and leader of the opposition would receive such protection during a general election campaign. David Cameron and then-prime-minister Gordon Brown were guarded during the 2010 campaign, although Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg was also afforded police protection.

Public events featuring Mr Farage are regularly targeted by protesters - and he was recently forced to abandon a walkabout in Rotherham.

He cancelled his plans after protests and accusations of "rubber-necking" at victims of child sex abuse. Instead of cutting the ribbon on the campaign office of would-be Ukip MP Jane Collins, his team said he would not come out of the building in the South Yorkshire town on police advice.

crowds gather outside the ukip office in rotherham

And last year, Farage had to be escorted by police from a pub in Edinburgh after seeking refuge from an angry crowd.

He was taken away in a police van after being heckled by protesters as he left the Cannons Gait pub during his visit to Edinburgh, as part of a plan to build on electoral gains in England and start winning in Scotland.

farage heckled

He was also hit over the head with a placard during a protest in Kent.

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The BBC reported that Mr Farage was reluctant to make the request for protection, but that there is a growing concern among some Ukip senior members that the repeat protests against its leader could hinder its General Election efforts.

Neither Ukip nor the Home Office would comment on security arrangements.