Ukip have suspended one of their most high-profile MEPs and dropped her as general election candidate over a "serious financial" allegation.

Janice Atkinson, who represents the South East in the European Parliament, had the party whip removed after a member of her staff was allegedly filmed trying to get a restaurant to issue her a fake invoice.

The Sun, who obtained the footage, claimed the staffer requested the bill to be inflated by more than £2,000 what the lunch actually cost in a bid to "repatriate" the extra money from Brussels.

The paper said the recording had been taken in Margate when Ukip had their spring conference at the seaside town in February.

Atkinson was due to fight for the Folkestone and Hythe seat in May but Ukip have now axed her as the party's candidate for the constituency.

"The party is incredibly disappointed with Atkinson, who appears to have exercised extremely poor judgment in acting in a way that the party has never, and would never condone," a Ukip spokesperson said.

"The party has acted swiftly and immediately, and just as we showed when we suspended another MEP for financial irregularities, we always maintain a zero-tolerance attitude towards acts of this nature."

The allegations come after Atkinson was caught up in a racism row last year when she was caught describing a Thai female constituent as "ting tong".

The "serious financial" allegation will be an unwanted distraction for Ukip with just weeks to go before the general election.

The latest opinion poll from YouGov, which questioned more than 2,000 voters, put Ukip on 13% ahead of May's vote.

The survey, which was conducted between 18 and 19 March, also put the Tories on a two-point lead over Labour (35% vs 33%).

Atkinson had not responded to a request for comment at the time of publication.