Ukip has suspended Godfrey Bloom as the party whip after he described women at a party conference fringe meeting as "sluts" and hit a journalist on the head in a heated televised exchange in the street.

Steve Crowther, chairman of the party, confirmed: "I have withdrawn the whip from Godfrey Bloom, pending a formal disciplinary hearing."

Bloom said that his remarks about women had been a joke but Ukip leader Nigel Farage condemned them, saying Bloom had "gone beyond the pale". Farage had been hoping to use the party conference in london to show that the party had matured.

Bloom had already irked the leadership with his earlier comments about Britain's aid to "Bongo-Bongo Land".

Selfish behaviour

After being questioned by reporters on his "sluts" comment, the 63-year-old MEP was asked by Channel 4's Michael Crick why there were only white people on the cover of the party's conference brochure. A furious Bloom called Crick a racist for making such an observation and then hit him on the head with the brochure.

Farage later said: "The trouble with Godfrey is he's not a racist or extremist, or anti-women, but he has a rather old-fashioned, Territorial Army sense of humour.

"Eight months out from a European election I intend to win, my own view is that Godfrey's behaviour is selfish and is beginning to overshadow all the good things that are happening today.

"Godfrey has gone beyond the pale and we have no option to remove the whip."