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Farage accused of abusing MEP expenses

Farage accused of abusing MEP expenses

Categories: Latest News

Tuesday April 15 2014

The GuardianDaily MirrorDaily TelegraphIndependentBBC News and Sky News all report on the allegations faced by UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, over the misuse of his EU general expenditure allowance following the front page story in The Times of an interview with a former party official who has filed a complaint with the EU’s anti-fraud body.

The Daily Mirror, Daily Telegraph, and Independent report that Farage faces the prospect of an expenses probe into his use of European Union funds. The Times, Guardian and Sky News all report that he faces questions over the £15, 500 he has claimed annually since at least 2009 to pay for office costs.

Farage stands accused of misusing EU allowances of £12,000 after a former senior UKIP official claimed the costs of the UKIP leader’s constituency office, in terms of utility bills, amounted to £3,000 a year since the office was given rent-free to Farage by two UKIP supporters 15 years ago. The Times reports that the former UKIP official has filed a complaint with the EU’s anti-fraud body over Farage’s expenses.

EU guidelines on the use of funds outlines that they should be spent on rent, utilities, insurance and business rates. EU policy on expenses, however, do not require MEPs to file receipts to prove how they have spent their allowance leaving the system open to abuse.

The Daily Mirror notes that Farage revealed his contribution from a proportion of his allowance to pay towards a second EU pension scheme of which he was a member between 1999 and 2009. The scheme involves MEPs paying in £1,052 of their own money each month which is supplemented by a taxpayer funded payment of twice that amount.  Moreover, Farage has also denied claims by ex-staff members that he transferred European funds into offshore bank accounts in the Cayman Islands and the Isle of Man.

In an attempt to defend himself, Farage stated “I don’t pay rent on the office but I obviously pay for everything else. Whether it’s the burglar alarm or electricity. About £1,000 a month is roughly what it is. Exceptionally I put more in as and when it’s needed.”

In a statement on the UKIP’s website David Samuel-Camps accuses the Times of distorting his responses in the interview claiming that the costs of the office had eventually been reduced to £700 which is not too far removed from Farage’s claim to spend £1000 per month.

The allegations regarding transferring EU funds to offshore accounts have also been refuted. The party also claimed the allegations were made by a convicted fraudster Jasna Badzak who is serving a prison sentence.

Farage has described the Times story as “yet another politically motivated attack from what is the establishment newspaper”. He has previously made similar claims of the media dragging UKIP into ‘disrepute’.

UKIP also notes the allegations in the paper have come after opinion polls have revealed the increased levels of support for UKIP as it is ahead of the Conservative Party and on a level playing field with Labour in voting intentions for the upcoming European elections next month.

The Independent ComRes survey poll, however, shows that more than half of the electorate remains immune to UKIP with no intention of supporting the party.

ComRes carried out telephone interviews with 1000 adults between 11 and 13 April. ComRes findings show:

Only 32% believed UKIP offered a “realistic alternative political vision of Britain” in comparison to 51% of voters who held the opposite view.

54% of voters were not attracted to UKIP’s “plain-speaking style”.

Significantly more Tory voters (38%) said UKIP had a realistic vision in comparison to Labour voters (26%).

33% of voters said they were attracted to UKIP “because they say what they think” while 54% disagreed.

Overall the electorate is divided on whether UKIP is a party of the far right: while 40% agreed, 38% disagreed. But Labour supporters regarded it as being on the far right by a majority of two to one (55% to 28%).


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