A former Brexit Party MEP has died on a spearfishing dive in the Bahamas, where he had his home.
Robert Rowland, 54, was diving from a boat at Highbourne, one of the Exuma Cays, on the afternoon of Saturday, 23 January. He was part of a group of six who had made the 90-minute trip from New Providence in a 12m boat.
Exuma is a long string of 365 cays to the south-east of New Providence, with Highbourne one of the more northerly cays.
Rowland is presumed to have been freediving when he was reported to have joined members of the crew on a dive at around 2.30.
“Moments later, crew-members became concerned when one of the males did not resurface,” police told local paper the Tribune. “A diver went overboard in search of their colleague and found him lying on the seabed. He was brought to the surface; however, he was unresponsive.”
The boat-crew then headed further south to Norman’s Cay in a bid to charter a plane, but after failing to do so returned to the Bahamas’s capital Nassau on New Providence, where Rowland was pronounced dead by medical staff.
A post mortem was being carried out and an investigation into what the Royal Bahamas Police Force described as a “drowning incident” was launched.
“It is with great sadness that I have to announce the death of Robert Rowland, after a diving accident near his home in the Bahamas,” announced Reform (previously Brexit) Party leader Nigel Farage the following day.
“Following a successful career in the city, Robert was an enthusiastic Brexit Party MEP and larger than life character. He leaves a wife, Lisa Marie, and four children. On behalf of myself, and all those who were involved with the Brexit Party, I extend our sincerest condolences to his family.”
Rowland was MEP for South East England from 2019 until the UK’s recent departure from the European Union. A climate-change sceptic – he said that “decarbonisation is deindustrialisation” – he drew attention with his call for non-British civilian fishing vessels found within a 200-mile exclusion zone to be sunk.