The UK Independence Party leader has been fined by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare tens of thousands of pounds worth of free office space.
Nigel Farage has been fined £200 for breaching electoral laws.
The UK Independence Party leader has been fined by the Electoral Commission for failing to declare tens of thousands of pounds worth of free office space.
The electoral watchdog found that the failure to report the “regular non-cash donation of the free use of office premises from a donor, Mr John Longhurst”.
It said: “The failure to report had been ongoing since 2001 and has been independently valued as rising from £3,500 to £3,800 per year over this time.”
Mr Farage has paid the fine, the Commission said. The Commission said that the office was for his own use.
Under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 all non-cash donations of more than £1,500 must be reported to the Commission.
Although the donations had not been reported to the Commission, they had been properly reported to the European Parliament by Mr Farage.
The Commission is satisfied that there had been no intent to hide the donations.
The Commission also said that the Conservative party had forfeited a £28,000 impermissible donation from a company called Henley Concierge Limited.
A Ukip spokesman said: ”The Electoral Commission wholly accept that Nigel Farage sought professional advice and followed it in good faith and that the use of the office was not concealed.
“They therefore concluded that Mr Farage was ‘honestly mistaken as to [his] obligations’. Nigel has paid the fine and the matter is now settled.”
Nigel Farage has declared to the Electoral Commission over £205,603 worth of benefits-in-kind accumulated over more than 10 years.
The Electoral Commission says he should have made the declarations within 30 days of accepting the benefits.
It is considering whether to take action against him.
UKIP’s leader has had free use of a barn for his constituency office since 2001 but until now has not informed the Electoral Commission.
The commission says he should have told them about the value of the rent-free deal.
Records released today show he failed to do so until after the property featured in news stories in April, and he was contacted by the Commission.
A commission spokeswoman said: “At the moment, our party finance team is still reviewing all of the necessary information supplied to us by Mr Farage and are considering it carefully.
“Once this process is complete we will take a decision on whether any further action against him is necessary.”
It has the power to fine him up to £20,000.
But Nigel Farage said he had always declared the property – an old grain store near Lyminster – in a register in Brussels.
He told the BBC he had declared it as a benefit in kind there every year since 2001.
He added: “The Electoral Commission decided it’s a donation in kind to UKIP. I don’t understand it for a moment. I took advice which I thought at the time was right.”
A UKIP spokesman said: “Every year since 2001, Mr Farage has declared in his European Parliament Register of Interests the use of a rent-free office from J Longhurst Ltd. The premises has been used as his MEP office so the European Parliamentary register was the logical place for it to be declared.
“Mr Farage was surprised to learn that the Electoral Commission thought it should be informed as well as this did not accord with the professional advice he had received at the time.”
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.
Joe Fitzpatrick is at the centre of a political storm after publishing a UKIP leaflet lampooning postal vote fraud.
Mr Fitzpatrick left the Labour party four years ago following the high-profile court case that ended with former MP Phil Woolas ousted from his Oldham East and Saddleworth seat.
Oldham Council leader Jim McMahon has described this latest stunt as “gutter politics” following controversial claims made in the leaflet.
The leaflet, for Alexandra ward UKIP candidate Dave Carter, features a seven-point plan: “How to win an election in Oldham”. It seemingly encourages voters to impersonate friends or relatives to get extra votes at polling stations, collect unused postal votes from family and friends and steal or swap postal votes.
Mr Fitzpatrick claims Labour and the Lib-Dems already carry out these underhand tactics.
The leaflet also advises voters to collect completed postal votes from their friends, steam them open and alter the vote with Tippex – and accuses borough solicitor Paul Entwistle of turning a blind eye.
It is easy for certain councillors to win a seat, says the leaflet, because they can “count on the white folk not voting”.
Underneath the plan the leaflet says UKIP refuses to stand in Werneth, Coldhurst and St Mary’s as the “abuse of postal votes is widespread and democracy has been destroyed”.
Council leader Jim McMahon said: “This is truly gutter politics by any standard. It is intended to create racial divisions in the town and tarnish the reputation of honest and hard-working public officials.
“UKIP need to condemn this kind of campaigning because it brings the whole democratic process into disrepute. If they had any morals they would expel the candidates and agents involved.”
Mr Fitzpatrick has emailed the Electoral Commission to request that independent observers are sent to Friday’s count as he says he has “increasing concerns about the integrity of the election in Oldham”.
Kathryn Dunn, the Electoral Commission’s North of England liaision officer, said there will be no investigation; if officers attend the Oldham count it will be as observers. She advised Mr Fitzpatrick to go to the police with his concerns.
The UKIP leaflet has been sent to the returning officer and Greater Manchester Police, who are reviewing it for potential criminal liability.
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.”
A by-election row has broken out in Wythenshawe and Sale East after three residents were pictured on a UKIP pamphlet without their permission.
Bernard Caine, Irene Lawrance and her daughter Rachel met the party’s candidate, John Bickley, at a tenants’ group discussion two weeks ago.
But they were ‘gobsmacked’ to see their faces in a booklet a few days later, with captions saying they supporting the anti-EU party.
None of the trio gave their permission to be pictured in campaign literature – and none of them plans to vote UKIP.
Lisa Duffy, UKIP’s by-election campaign director, insisted the party’s photographer had explained what the picture was for, adding: “He is really sorry for any misunderstanding but he was very clear the photographs were for political use.
“It’s a photograph in election material showing John listening to the concerns of residents.
“It doesn’t say they are endorsing our campaign.”
Mr Caine, 72, who sits on a string of local community groups, said: “I was invited as chair of the tenants’ committee at Wythenshawe Community Housing Group to attend a gathering to meet the UKIP rep, which I did, and during the course of that they did take a photograph.
“But they didn’t tell me what they were going to use it for. This is now on a leaflet without my permission. I’m appalled at this kind of tactic.”
Mr Caine, who says he has no party political affiliation but on this occasion has picked Labour candidate Mike Kane via postal vote, added: “It is diabolical.”
UKIP have been fighting hard ahead of tomorrow’s poll in the hope of swiping second place, a result that would bode well for them in future elections.
But Irene, 67, said she only went to the meeting because her housing association asked her to go.
“Quite frankly I’m gobsmacked,” she said. “I don’t support UKIP. I don’t want to be associated with them in any way.”
Mr Caine has now reported UKIP to the Electoral Commission and the police, but has been told no action will be taken because they are not actually named.
As we continue to monitor extremism in this country, year after year one name continues to crop up in far right circles.That name is question belongs to Bert Leech.
Albert Edward Leech is an elderly Bedford based businessman who has attempted to act as a political “sugar daddy” to a collection of far right organisations over a number of years.
In March 2004, Leech donated £1,000 to the British National Party, the record of this donation can be viewed on the Electoral Commission website.
In 2007 Leech offered to fund deposits for “Nationalist” candidates who were intending to stand in the 2010 General Election. Leech along with two other unknown benefactors were to make available a war chest of up to £40,000. The offer was supposedly available to members of the following parties: BNP, British Peoples Party, The English Democrats, English Independence Party, Freedom Party, NF, England First Party and even UKIP. What is unclear however is whether the offer was a genuine one or if indeed any candidate chose to make an approach to Leech and his group.
Later in 2007 it is known that Leech attended the 40th anniversary meeting of the National Front held in a venue in West London. Staying in 2007 Leech was also photographed with a number of England First Party activists who were fighting a by election in Milton Keynes.
The following year saw Bert Leech attend the “Voice of Change” meeting held in Brinsley, Nottinghamshire, organised by Sadie Graham and her group of BNP rebels who attempted and failed to wrestle power away from Nick Griffin. Leech is thought to have donated £5,000 to their campaign.
Fast forward to 2013 and Bert Leech attended the launch meeting of Andrew Brons’ BNP splinter The British Democratic Party in the Leicestershire village of Queniborough.
In tandem with his support for the various dregs of the far right, Leech along with his close friend, former BNP activist Barry Taylor established a hate filled website entitled ” England Is Ours” which remains online still to this day despite its large amounts of racism and anti-Semitic postings.
So with a comprehensive CV of far right extremism, we were surprised to find that Bert Leech had become a UKIP committee member.
In November 2012, following an AGM that took place at Wymington Memorial Hall Leech was voted onto the branch committee of Mid Bedfordshire UKIP.
We wonder if Leech has once again dipped his hands into his very deep pockets, this time with UKIP?