A Brexit-backing ghost, alien and UFO author has become a Conservative MEP, it emerged on Wednesday 5 July.

Rupert Matthews, 56, who describes himself as a historian and investigator of the "unexplained", has published more than 170 books in 20 different languages on "extraterrestrial phenomena", the Second World War, pirates and dinosaurs.

He now represents the East Midlands in the EU Parliament after filling a MEP slot left vacant after Andrew Lewer became an MP at the general election.

Matthews, who campaigned for a Leave vote at the EU referendum and took part in the pro-Brexit flotilla in the Thames last year, has also taught a "Understanding Our Paranormal Universe" course at the so-called International Metaphysical University (IMU) in the US.

"It will cover the a wide range of paranormal phenomena including the best known such as Ghosts, UFOs, Cryptozoology, ESP, etc, as well as some of the less well known phenomena for which the evidence is nevertheless strong," the IMU said.

"The course will also aim to make the student familiar with the paranormal experience as it affects those individuals who encounter the paranormal and how paranormal events should be investigated and researched. Finally some explanations for the apparently inexplicable will be put forward."

Matthews, a former Tory councillor, is a member of the 75-strong European Conservatives and Reformists Group and, among other things, sits on the EU Parliament's Culture and Education Committee. His 2007 "Alien Encounters" has received favourable ratings on Amazon, with the book earning a rating of four out of five stars based on 12 customer reviews.

"In this compelling and revealing examination, author Rupert Matthews looks afresh at key episodes of alien activity on earth, and sheds light on the many mysterious phenomena associated with it," the summary reads.

"From Roswell to Taizé, the book dissects fascinating eyewitness accounts of communication and contact with alien beings, as well as chilling cases of abduction. It also sifts through sinister evidence of government cover-ups."

News of Matthews' appointment broke just a day after EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker described the EU Parliament as "ridiculous" over the low attendance record of MEPs in Strasbourg, France.

"The fact that about 30 MEPs are seated in this debate is enough to show that the Parliament is not serious," Juncker said. Antonio Tajani, the newly elected Italian president of the EU parliament, accused Juncker of a lack of respect.

"You can criticise the parliament, but it's not the commission's job to control the parliament – it's the parliament that has to control the commission."

Juncker, who vowed to never "attend a meeting of this kind again", claimed that the chamber would be "full" if German Chancellor Angela Merkel or French President Emmanuel Macron addressed the MEPs.

"I wanted to pay tribute to the Maltese government and to the prime minister of Malta [Joseph Muscat] for what [overseeing Malta's six-month-long presidency of the EU]," Juncker added.

The 751 MEPs receive a basic salary of €8,020.53 ($10377.96) per month. The pay is initially taxed by the EU, reducing it to €6250.37, and the MEP's home nation – the UK's HMRC, for instance – also taxes the money.