Richard Desmond
Richard Desmond has now donated £1.3m to Ukip Getty

Ukip has been handed a huge cash boost ahead of the general election after Daily Express and Daily Star proprietor Richard Desmond handed Nigel Farage a cheque for £1m ($1.5m).

The media tycoon, who also owns OK! magazine, donated the money to help "give the party a voice" and to "challenge" the Westminster establishment.

It follows a £300,000 donation he made to the party in December 2014 and shows a change in direction after Desmond donated £100,000 to the Labour Party during Tony Blair's leadership.

Announcing his donation, former Labour supporter Desmond admitted Ukip were not "perfect" but said it stood up for "ordinary British people".

"They are struggling to have a voice. They do not have a massive party machine or highly paid public relations people," he said. "They are human; they are not perfect and they do not pretend to be. But what they believe in is the best for the British people. They are the sort of people who will stand up for people who are struggling."

His decision to back Ukip makes him one of the party's largest donors along with long-term backer Stuart Wheeler.

Party leader Nigel Farage, who goes head-to-head in the opposition leaders' debate on 16 April, said the money would be used to give Ukip a larger online presence.

"This money will make a big difference. We are up against the big battalions; this helps significantly," the Thanet South candidate said.

"It enables us, particularly with our online presence, to reach bigger and bigger audiences. We've been doing very well compared to the big parties already and this will make a big difference."