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UKIP blocked questions over party’s EU funding

posted by: Alexi Mostrous and Billy Kenber | on: Thursday, 17 April 2014, 19:36


Ukip members were silenced, ignored or forced out of the party after questioning its use of EU allowances and donations, it was claimed yesterday.

Nigel Farage and other senior Ukip officials traduced colleagues who raised concerns about how the party handled millions of pounds in funds, whistleblowers and former members alleged.

Mr Farage called a senior female Ukip official a “stupid woman” and told her to “shut up” when she asked for an independent audit into party finances, according to Delroy Young, formerly Ukip’s only black executive. Another member was allegedly physically threatened.

The Ukip insiders spoke out as Mr Farage was confronted by a barrage of questions after The Times revealed yesterday that he was facing an investigation into a “missing” £60,000 in EU allowances

In transparency reports filed on the Ukip website, Mr Farage claims to have spent £15,500 a year solely on utilities, business rates and insurance for his small constituency office in West Sussex. A former office manager said that such costs, which exclude staff salaries, office equipment, phone bills and stationery, amounted to no more than £3,000 a year.

Mr Farage dismissed criticism over his EU spending yesterday as “yet another politically motivated attack from what is the establishment newspaper”. His defence came as:

· The Electoral Commission wrote to Ukip seeking answers as to why Mr Farage’s rent-free office was not declared as a donation for all relevant years;

· The Ukip leader told the BBC that he spent European funds to “push the Ukip campaign” in an apparent breach of EU rules;

· MEPs vote in Strasbourg today on a plan to reform European allowances, amid growing calls for change.

Six former party officials have alleged that Mr Farage presided over a party that reacted furiously to any questioning of its financial affairs.

After leaving Ukip in 2008, Mr Young claimed that he received a telephone death threat, allegedly on the orders of a senior Ukip party executive. At the time, Ukip denied that anyone in the party ordered the threat.

Mr Young told The Times that Mr Farage had a habit of going “berserk” whenever anyone asked questions about money. In 2006 he joined five other Ukip national executive committee (NEC) members to call for “an immediate internal audit of the party finances by members of the NEC with full disclosure”.

The NEC members were reacting to concerns over the use of MEP allowances as well as to questions about donations raised through a Ukip call centre in Kent. Mr Farage has said that the Ashford call centre raised at least £400,000 over three years.

At a subsequent Ukip meeting in Bromley, a female committee member attempted to ask Mr Farage about Ashford and MEPs’ expenses.

“Farage shouted at her, he said ‘Shut up you stupid woman’,” Mr Young, who was at the meeting, said. “He went berserk. I said: ‘Who do you think you are? . . . She has a right to be asking these questions’.”

Ian Gillman, a former member of Ukip’s NEC, said that he had also raised questions about what happened to donations solicited by Ashford and funds raised through the sale of lottery tickets. Mr Gillman described a meeting of the party’s East Midlands committee in March 2008 at which he highlighted his concerns and was then “physically threatened” by a party official in the presence of Derek Clark MEP.

“I never raised my voice, I just persisted with question after question about where our money had gone,” he said. “The official made threats to take me outside the room and beat me up. He darted a ballpoint pen at my eye [and] said how dare you ask these questions.”

Mr Gillman said that he was asked to leave the meeting and thrown off the committee, and was subsequently targeted with a spam email attack by the same party official.

The official disputes Mr Gillman’s account.

Tony Ellwood, who worked as Mr Clark’s political researcher for several years, was also present at the meeting and corroborated Mr Gillman’s account. Mr Ellwood said that in 2006 he was asked to reconcile the national party’s accounts and found that 95 per cent of its funds were being withdrawn as cash for unknown purposes.

He said that he had “kept quiet” in order to keep his job, but after witnessing Mr Gillman’s treatment he confronted Mr Clark about alleged financial irregularities. Mr Ellwood said the MEP “lost his temper” and told him to resign.

The Times has seen a letter from Bruce Lawson, a former national treasurer, to Mr Farage in 2008 urging him to resign as Ukip’s leader. Mr Lawson, who suggested that Mr Farage remain as the party’s top MEP in Brussels, said he was “wholly uncomfortable” with how Ukip MEPs received allowances and “where those monies go”.

Mr Lawson sent Mr Farage an attached document called: “MEPs’ Pay and Expenses — Who wants to be a Millionaire”.

“MEPs [get] an office allowance of about £30,000,” Mr Lawson wrote. “No receipts are required. Some MEPs use it to pay an extra £660 a month into their pension plans from their office expenses money. In theory they are then supposed to reimburse this money from their salaries, but everyone relies on the MEPs’ honesty. There are no checks that any of them actually do repay this money.”

It is not known whether Mr Farage replied.

A Ukip spokesman said: “These historic allegations come from a few very unimpressive people that Ukip attracted years ago and who were gradually weeded out.”

The Times



 Posted: 17 Apr 2014 | There are 0 comments


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