Beatrix von Storch
Beatrix von Storch, deputy spokeswoman of the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) partyAxel Schmidt

A German MEP who caused a furore over claims that police should shoot illegal immigrants has joined a UKIP group in the European parliament chaired by Nigel Farage. Beatrix von Storch, deputy leader of the far right Alternative for Germany (AfD), has joined the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) after a spat with the mainstream European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR).

The AfD, an anti-immigrant party that is gaining support in Germany, was suspended by the ECR earlier this year over comments made by its chairwoman, Frauke Petry, who said police should shoot immigrants who enter Germany illegally. Von Storch endorsed the comments and later clarified that while firearms should not be used against children, they could be used against women.

"The use of firearms against children is not permitted," she said before adding that "Women are a different matter. The use of weapons against them can therefore be permitted within the narrow legal framework," she told the German newspaper, Deutsche Welle.

In a statement issued Friday, EFDD said: "We are pleased that such a prominent and respected member of the AfD Party subscribes fully to our charter and will work with us for a Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy.

"We are in favour of freedom and co-operation among people of different states, as well as respect for Europe's history, traditions and cultural values. The group rejects xenophobia, anti-Semitism and any other form of discrimination."

Von Storch said that the ECR, which was set up by British Conservative MEPs in 2009, was trying to distance itself from the AfD ahead of the 23 June referendum on European membership.

An EFDD source told the Telegraph: "Beatrix has agreed to uphold the charter of the group, publicly apologized and issued a statement that neither AfD nor herself want to shoot people at the border.

"We are pleased that such a prominent and respected member of the AfD subscribes fully to our charter and will work with us. The group rejects xenophobia, anti-Semitism and any other form of discrimination."