Ukip has insisted that deputy chairman Suzanne Evans has not been sacked as a spokeswoman despite a leaked internal email ordering press officers to keep her off the airwaves.
Ms Evans’ position came under pressure after she said party leader Nigel Farage was perceived as “very divisive” and should not lead the campaign to leave the European Union ahead of the referendum promised by the end of 2017 because of the way he was seen by the public.
In a statement Ukip said the leaked email obtained by the BBC had been issued “without proper authority” and Ms Evans had not been sacked.
The sender of the leaked message, who was not identified, wrote that they were issuing a “directive” having “just spoken to Nigel”.
“From this moment onwards no-one employed by the Ukip press office is to have any further contact with SE,” the email said.
The message stated that no interview bids were to be accepted and “she is not to be offered as an official Ukip spokesman”.
It added that “no-one is to brief SE or advise her on any issue”.
But a statement issued by Ukip said: “Suzanne Evans has not been sacked as a Ukip spokesman. The email seen by the BBC was issued without proper authority.”
A Ukip spokeswoman refused to comment on any disciplinary proceedings that would follow the leak of the email.
“This is a matter we will deal with internally,” she said.
Asked if the email accurately reflected Mr Farage’s view, the spokeswoman said: “Nigel has nothing to do with any of this.”
Mr Farage has said he is “prepared” to lead the No campaign in the in/out vote - but suspects the role will go to a figure from “outside normal politics”.