Ukip have received millions this year from property developers and the owners of elite Mayfair clubs. Now Nigel wants City boys to pay in too
Ukip donations are likely to have risen as much as 5 times between 2013 and 2014.
Real estate magnates, a elite Mayfair club owner and a betting tycoon are among the people who pushed money into Ukip’s election machine in 2014.
Ukip received a staggering £1.3m from real estate developers Highstone Group in just the first 9 months of 2014.
But despite the huge sums, Farage has been quoted as saying he wants to turn to fat cats from his old sector – the City – to fund Ukip’s race to Parliament in 2015.
Property developers, betting tycoons and management consultants – Ukip’s 5 biggest backers
Here are the 5 biggest donors to Ukip last year, using the Electoral Commission’s figures from January to September 2014.
1. Yorkshire property developers Highstone Group – £1.3m
Paul Sykes of real estate developers Highstone Group Ltd, based in Harrogate is far and away the biggest donor to Ukip this year. The company gave £1.3m to the party, though their donation is classed as value in advertising, not cash.
2. Betting tycoon Stuart Wheeler – £199,500
Stuart Wheeler is a spread betting tycoon who is now serving as Ukip’s treasurer.
3. Mayfair-based management consultants – £85,000
Growth Financial Services Ltd is a Mayfair-based management and financial consultancy company with a turnover of £6.5m.
4. East-London based property developer – £65,000
Mura Estates LLP is also a property developer, based in London behind several major developments in East London.
5. A private members’ club owner – £55,000
Mr Robin Birley runs a private members’ club in Mayfair, which costs £1,875 a year to join. He gave Ukip £55000 in 2014.
Ukip donations look set to be FIVE TIMES bigger between 2013 and 2014
Ukip’s funding is 9 times less than the Tory party’s- but then they only have 2 MPs to the Conservatives 303.
Once the donations from the last three months of 2014 are added in, Ukip’s total donation haul could be as high as £3.6m. Richard Desmond the newspaper magnate has pledged £300,000. And former Tory donor Arron Banks who made his money in insurance brokering and financial services, promised £1million in October.
If those two donors came good by the end of 2014, Ukip will have raised at least £3.6m in 2014, 5 times more than the year before.
THE Russian-born wife of a Bristol businessman who hit the headlines when it emerged he had donated £1 million to UKIP was allegedly helped to stay in Britain by a disgraced MP.
Katya Banks, who is married to Arron Banks and lives in Tockington, divorced her first husband – a Portsmouth merchant seaman – after just three months.
According to national newspaper reports, Mrs Banks – formerly known as Ekaterina Paderina – faced questions over the validity of her marriage to Eric Butler after she arrived in Britain from Ekaterinburg in eastern Russia on a student visa in the 1990s.
Mr Butler told reporters he fell in love with Miss Paderina despite the fact that he was more than twice her age but the authorities suspected it was a sham marriage.
He was introduced to MP Mike Hancock through a restaurant owner who had a Russian girlfriend and was promised that he would help to get everything sorted.
Mr Hancock, who is now an Independent MP and has a reputation for close links with women from Eastern Europe in their 20s and 30s, denied at the time that he helped Miss Paderina. There is no suggestion they had an improper relationship.
Bridget Rowe, spokeswoman for UKIP, said if Miss Paderina had gone to her local MP she would have done so for help as a constituent. Ms Rowe said: “Isn’t that what MPs are there for?”
Mr Hancock was also facing questions at the time over his Russian parliamentary aide Katia Zatuliveter who MI5 suspected of espionage but she was cleared two years later of passing secrets to Moscow and allowed to stay in Britain.
Mr Hancock used to be a Liberal Democrat MP who formally resigned from the party two weeks ago after he admitted inappropriate behaviour with a woman who is known only as “Annie”.
Miss Paderina, 38, married Mr Banks in November 2001 and is now known as Katya Banks.
She is aspiring to be an actress and model, offering herself for assignments on a modelling website.
She says: “I am starting acting, and looking for photographers to help me update my portfolio on a TFP arrangement (the model gives her time free of charge in exchange for prints).
“I am based near Thornbury Village, Bristol, but willing to travel.
“I am fun and friendly with an extensive, glamorous wardrobe and a large house which could be used for location shoots.
“I will not do nudes.”
In 2008, the couple advertised on a website for an au pair aged over 23 from Eastern Europe for six months to help with three children aged three to nine for six months. They were offering £100 for working a 35 to 40 hour week. The National Minimum Wage six years ago was £5.73 an hour for adults aged 22 and over. But UKIP spokeswoman Ms Rowe said £100 a week was not below the minimum wage in 2008 if it is taken into account that the post was a live-in position with food and accommodation included.
The Bristol Post made efforts to speak to Mrs Banks and Mr Hancock yesterday but neither were available for comment.
Mr Banks said on television that he was prepared to stand as a UKIP candidate in Thornbury and Yate, the constituency where he lives.
As reported in yesterday’s Bristol Post, the former Conservative donor had been intending to give the anti-EU party £100,000 – but dramatically upped his donation after former Tory leader William Hague dismissed him as “someone we haven’t heard of”.
Earlier this month The Electoral Commission released details of a number of funders who had donated large amounts of money to Nigel Farage’s UKIP.
One former Tory donor, Mayfair nightclub owner Robin Birley donated £50,000 to the coffers of the xenophobic party in the hopes of boosting the chances of the party at election time.
Birley is the step-brother of Tory MP Zac Goldsmith. As a teenager he was mauled by a tiger at a private zoo of family friend John Aspinall. The bones on one side of his face were crushed and Birley has had to endure years of plastic surgery.
However, it is his political life that is of most interest to Hope not hate.
In 1998, Birley began to work with the pro Pinochet Chilean Supporters Abroad organisation. Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet was at the time under house arrest indicted for human rights violations committed in his native country. The Rettig Report found that at least 2,279 persons were murdered by the Chilean government for political reasons during Pinochet’s regime, and the Valech Report found that at least 30,000 persons were tortured by the government for political reasons.
Birley welcomed the dictator to the UK with open arms and financed an extravagant residence for the elderly despot in Wentworth, Surrey. Birley also funded a pro-Pinochet booklet and said of the Chilean dictator “It’s also an abuse of hospitality to ambush an old man when he has come to this country year after year. He has done an immense amount for Chile. No one is supporting him and I have sympathy for the underdog.”
In the early 1990’s Robin Birley was also president of the Mozambique Institute which supported RENAMO, the South African backed force that systematically committed war crimes and crimes against humanity during the civil war in Mozambique including mass killings and mutilation of innocent men, women and children during raids on villages and towns. RENAMO became notorious for the abduction of children in order to use them as child soldiers and it is estimated that one third of RENAMO forces were under 18 years of age.
Channel 4 News discovers Ukip has been soliciting donations from a businessman from whom the party publicly distanced itself last year due to his “unpalatable” opinions on women and homosexuality.
Last year, Greek shipping and investment tycoon Demetri Marchessini was Ukip’s sixth largest individual cash donor – until some of his controversial views were revealed in the UK press, and Ukip distanced itself from the businessman.
However, Channel 4 News can now reveal that Mr Marchessini has made at least one more major donation to the party, on Christmas eve 2013, and is still in contact with Ukip’s treasurer.
Mr Marchessini, who is based in London, holds a large number of controversial views.
He says, for example, that homosexual relationships are never based on love – “only lust”, and never involve “fidelity”
He believes that a husband can never rape his wife – “once a woman accepts, she accepts”
And he believes women should be banned from wearing trousers – “only skirts excite men”
In February and March last year Mr Marchessini gave Ukip two gifts of £5,000. That was before, however, reports emerged about some of Mr Marchessini’s views – including that women should not be allowed to wear trousers.
Marchessini once published a book, Women in Trousers: a Rear View. The book included photographs of women in the street wearing trousers, taken from behind. The aim, Mr Marchessini said, was to show how unflattering women looked in trousers.
Ukip responded, in May last year, by distancing itself from Mr Marchessini. A Ukip spokesperson told the BBC that: “We neither share nor condone these views. He can donate to whoever he wishes to donate to. Those donations do not come with strings attached.”
On Channel 4 News, in May last year, the Ukip MEP Roger Helmer also distanced his party from Mr Marchessini’s views, saying: “The truth is, and I’ve been around politics for a long time, you can pick on any party … and you can find individuals who say things that the mainstream of that party would not be prepared to accept. This is an example.”
It is a view echoed today by Ukip leader Nigel Farage, who, when questioned by Channel 4 News over the donations by Mr Marchessini, said: “I don’t know, you’ll have to ask the treasurer won’t you? I’m sure he gave the money in good faith, the money was taken in good faith.”
When asked whether Ukip should take money from a man with these kinds of views, Mr Farage added: “Possibly not, no. Ask the treasurer. I don’t run everything.”
‘Sodomy… a crime’
Ukip distanced itself further in January this year – after Mr Marchessini took out an advert in the Daily Telegraph in which he said “sodomy has always been a crime”.
He was responding to an article by Times columnist Libby Purves, which was critical of Vladimir Putin for Russia’s laws clamping down on “homosexual propaganda”.
Mr Marchessini wrote: “In the Orthodox religion, homosexuality has always been a major sin… The vast majority of Russians are Orthodox, and abhor homosexuality.”
There is no such thing as fidelity in homosexual relationships. They just all go out looking for action.
Following the article, Ukip spokespeople were quoted saying they “vehemently opposed” Mr Marchessini’s views.
One spokesman told the Huffington Post: “Mr Marchessini’s comments are entirely his own and he very publicly divorced from the party the last time we vehemently opposed his eccentric and unpalatable views.”
A Ukip spokeswoman was quoted in the Guardian as saying that when Ukip “publicly opposed the crazy female trouser-wearing comments made by Marchessini last year he made it absolutely abundantly clear that he is no longer associated with the party at all”.
“Even back then he was adamant that his thoughts were strictly his own. His only connection to Ukip is the fact he is an EU withdrawalist,” the spokeswoman said.
However, Channel 4 News has discovered that Mr Marchessini has made at least one further donation to Ukip. And he told this programme that the Ukip Treasurer Stuart Wheeler, a long-standing bridge partner, calls him to ask for more money “from time to time”.
‘Lust not love’
Channel 4 News visited Mr Marchessini at his opulent Knightsbridge home to ask him about his views, and his involvement with Ukip.
Sitting at a hunting desk, opposite a pair of enormous elephant tusks, Mr Marchessini told Political Correspondent Michael Crick that he supports Ukip because the Conservative Party is now “left wing” and he believes David Cameron to be “incompetent.”
He said that Ukip is the only party that guarantees an exit from the European Union.
In what’s thought to be Marchessini’s first-ever TV interview, he also elaborated on some of his controversial views, many of which he has previously expressed in his blog.
If you make love on Friday and you make love on Sunday you can’t say Saturday is rape.Demetri Marchessini
Asked by Michael Crick if he thinks the “nature of homosexual relationships is different”, Mr Marchessini said: “Oh completely different, there’s no love, only lust – and also the actions they do are completely different.
“They go out at night and they pick up, five, ten, fifteen different partners in one night. Is that love?”
When Crick suggested that many homosexuals are in stable relationships, Mr Marchessini went on: “But it’s not husband and wife, they’re roommates and both of them go out cruising.”
“There is no such thing as fidelity in homosexual relationships. They just all go out looking for action. That’s the way it is.”
Banning women’s trousers
On women, Mr Marchessini was asked if he think women should be banned from wearing trousers, and he said they should – because skirts are the only way they will excite men.
Asked why women should dress to excite men, Mr Marchessini said: “Because that is the only way the world is going to continue. Because if they don’t men are going to stop f***ing them.
“Do you understand, and may I tell you with great respect, that the incidents of love making in Western Europe have fallen drastically?”
He said one reason for this was because women wear trousers. He said another reason was “because women work”.
He also said that it is not possible for a husband to rape his wife.
“If you make love on Friday and you make love on Sunday you can’t say Saturday is rape,” he told Channel 4 News.
“Once a woman accepts, she accepts. And especially when she makes a vow on her wedding day.”
More of Mr Marchessini’s views, which he also regularly expresses on his website, will be aired inChannel 4 News’s interview with him, tonight at seven, on 4.
Ukip’s donations have increased with the party’s popularity – and most significantly have been coming from Yorkshire businessman Paul Sykes, who funded the party’s recent European election poster campaign.
But this hasn’t stopped Ukip calling Mr Marchessini for donations, he says.
“The treasurer of Ukip is an old friend of mine and from time to time he rings me up and asks if I’ll help.”
He says he doesn’t keep track of the phone calls he receives, and says he could not recall if the treasurer (Stuart Wheeler) had been called for further donations “in the past few weeks”.
The next time he is called, if he is, then he will consider whether or not to donate, Mr Marchessini says.
He said: “I will think about it, but I don’t think they need it now they have Mr Sykes. I am much less keen to give when they have endless money from Mr Sykes. Why should we pay? Let him pay.”
And he adds that Ukip has no responsibility for his views.
“I am not an official of Ukip,” he said. “I have no position at all, and they are not responsible for my views. I can say what I like and they say what they like.”
Ukip is yet to give a detailed response to Channel 4 News in relation to Mr Marchessini at this time.
A leading member of the UK Independence party, which has railed against the European “gravy train”, has demanded its MEPs contribute £10,000 each from their parliamentary allowances and salaries towards the costs of the party’s British headquarters or risk being deselected.
Alan Bown, a party donor who sits on its national executive committee, wrote to Ukip representatives in Brussels in 2011 suggesting they should be “good value for money” and divert EU cash to the party’s headquarters or face the sack, according to leaked documents. He pointedly added that thousands of pounds of EU allowances could be claimed without submitting receipts.
Party leader Nigel Farage and the party’s national executive committee subsequently put pressure on the MEPs to pay more to support the running of the party, sources said. Ukip sources say MEPs are still placed under “immense pressure” to contribute to the party.
Bown’s proposals prompted a furious response from the party’s MEPs, who feared they would be at risk of breaking the law if they diverted funds. Another leaked email shows that the party’s immigration spokesman, Gerard Batten, warned Ukip officials that he and other MEPs could face jail if they carried out Bown’s demands.
The disclosures are confirmation that the party’s MEPs have been under increasing pressure to divert their allowances into the party’s UK operations, in breach of EU rules.
EU documents state that allowances “are only eligible when spent on activities and objects which are directly linked to the office of a member of the European parliament”. Bown, a former bookmaker, sent an email to national executive members in January 2011 with an attached document titled “MEPs’ Financial Contributions to the Party”.
He complained that MEPs had failed to contribute to the party and pointed out that it costs £125,000 to get each of them elected, questioning whether they were good value for money.
Arguing that the party’s headquarters, Lexdrum House in Devon, spends a lot of money getting MEPs elected, he added: “In my opinion the MEPs have a clear duty to help finance Lexdrum House.”
The email points out that to get on a Ukip selection list, MEP candidates have to sign a “code of conduct” document complying with Bown’s demand that MEPs “provide substantial financial support to the central party out of income”.
A version of the code of conduct from 2008 has been leaked to the Guardian. It says the party’s MEPs pledge to “submit to oversight and act on advice from the party regarding the use of parliament allowances and expenses”.
In his email, Bown, 71, says: “Most MEPs draw a salary of £80K+ per year plus generous expenses of approximately £320K some of which does not require receipts.”
He said he had spoken to fellow Ukip peer and former party leader Lord Pearson and suggested he had agreed that this year’s reselected candidates should be judged in part on their payments to the party.
“Before an MEP is allowed to stand for re-election for 2014, the NEC should look at their record over the previous 5 years to see what he or she had achieved and particularly their financial contributions to the party.
“The NEC reserves the right to blackball any MEP from standing again if their record was poor.”
Bown’s email prompted an angry response from a number of MEPs, insiders said. A few days later, Batten, who has called for Muslims in Britain to sign a pledge of allegiance, sent an email claiming that following Bown’s advice would risk a criminal record and jail.
“The staff and office allowance combined is £253k,” said Batten. “This money can only be spent according to the rules on staff and offices. Only £42k of that does not require ‘receipts’. To use it for personal or political purposes is against the rules. Are you suggesting we should use it illegally? Are you suggesting we should risk prison to help the party financially?”
Two weeks after the email exchange, some MEPs met Bown, Farage and Stuart Wheeler at the Farmers Club in Whitehall, where they were informed that they were each under pressure to increase contributions to the party.
The party argues the EU is a waste of money and calls for Britain’s withdrawal.
It comes amid concern that the party’s rapid growth in popularity and expensive European parliament election campaign is not being supported by a corresponding rise in income.
It was reported by the Times on Saturday that the EU authorities have been asked to investigate whether some of Ukip’s staff in the UK are being paid from EU money, in breach of regulations.
The disclosures will prove embarrassing for the party as it tries to portray itself as a realistic and influential political force. Some party officials have privately voiced concern that money pledged by Paul Sykes, the former Tory donor, has not come through when they need to fund the European election campaign. Neil Hamilton, the former Tory MP, told the Observer this month: “”So far we haven’t seen the colour of his money.”
Ukip has come under increasing scrutiny over its alleged misuse of EU expenses. Tom Wise, the party’s former MEP for East of England, was jailed for expenses fraud after paying himself £36,000.
Two of the party’s senior members have repaid more than £37,000 meant for office staff after diverting it to party workers based in the UK.
Nikki Sinclaire, MEP for the West Midlands, told the Guardian last year that Farage told her the party would not be able to gain access to extra funds meant for a new political grouping without her support.
The party denied her claims.
Batten told the Guardian on Friday that he has never broken the rules.
“My donations to the party are made out of my personal income,” he said. Ukip said: “Alan Bown is an extremely generous donor to Ukip and is one of 16 members of the party’s NEC. He is well known for seeking to encourage other members of the party including MEPs to seek to emulate his own outstanding levels of generosity. All of our MEPs conduct their financial affairs honestly and comply with the rules covering allowances and expenses. Any donations they make to the party come from their post-tax salaries.”
Bown is in the US and did not respond to requests for a comment.