Police are investigating claims of “financial irregularities” at Ukip, The Times can reveal.
The Metropolitan Police said they were looking into a series of allegations made against Nigel Farage’s party by Jasna Badzak, a former Ukip press officer and parliamentary candidate.
David Manning, an acting detective superintendent at Scotland Yard, outlined five claims that he intends to investigate in an e-mail sent to Ms Badzak last week. They include financial irregularities “regarding the funding of the party” as well as a number of other allegations made against individuals associated with Ukip.
It is understood that Mr Manning has already interviewed at least one person named in connection with the complaints. A spokesman for the Metropolitan Police said that no arrests had been made.
Mr Farage already faces an official inquiry into allegations that Ukip may have breached parliamentary rules by using taxpayers’ money to fund its political operations.
A former member of the UKIP press office, who is not Ms Badzak, claimed that staff were improperly paid out of funds received by the party through its membership of a political group called Europe of Freedom and Democracy (EFD).
European Parliament rules state that such funds must not be used to “finance political parties at national and European level.”
“I was paid by the EFD group in the European Parliament, even though I worked exclusively for UKIP in the UK,” the whistleblower said. “The money was paid into my bank account directly from the EFD group.”
A Ukip spokesman last night declined to comment on Scotland Yard’s inquiries.
The party has previously stated that its MEPs are “careful to observe European parliamentary rules when spending resources on funding the goal of British withdrawal” and that it was “wholly legitimate” for some EFD staff to work out of London.
Ms Badzak was convicted in October of defrauding her former boss, Ukip Euro MEP Gerard Batten, out of £3,000. She received a 12-month suspended sentence. She is currently appealing the conviction.
Ukip leader Nigel Farage was accused of employing an alleged former mistress on his staff today.
Former Ukip MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who left the party after a fall-out, made the allegation in the European Parliament at Strasbourg.
She asked him: “With unemployment still a problem across Europe and indeed across the UK, does Mr Farage thinks it is a fair use of taxpayers’ money, namely his secretarial allowance, not only to employ his wife Kirsten but his former mistress Annabelle Fuller?
“Is that a responsible use of taxpayers’ money, Mr Farage?”
Mr Farage — who has dismissed the claim as “nonsense” — ignored her and continued taking notes. Asked if he intended to reply, he said: “I don’t want to answer that at all.”
He later told the Standard that the claims were untrue.
He said: “It is complete nonsense and it is malicious. This has been going around since 2006 and it is rubbish. The only change is that it has been said under parliamentary privilege.”
In a statement, a Ukip spokesman added: “The comments by Sinclaire are beneath contempt, and that person has abused parliamentary privilege to do so.
“Sinclaire is on police bail for a serious fraud charge and I believe has no credibility. Sinclaire has been saying the same thing to anyone who would listen since 2006.
“Regarding Miss Fuller, Mr Farage has been asked about this before and the answer has always been No, it is absolute rubbish.”
Ms Sinclaire, elected as an MEP in June 2009, left Ukip after refusing to sit with Italian party Liga Nord, which she called homophobic. The gay MEP, who had a sex change at 23, later won a claim of sex discrimination against Ukip.
In February 2012 she was arrested as part of a probe into allowances and expenses by West Midlands police. She denies all the allegations. Ms Fuller, a former senior press officer, is listed in official European Parliament records as one of five members of staff working for Mr Farage, along with wife Kirsten Farage. MEPs can spend up to £205,000 on office salaries.
In 2008, Ms Fuller said that she was the victim of a smear campaign aimed at undermining Mr Farage.
In 2011 she accused a Tory MP of molesting her at his flat after a drink.
Members of Nigel Farage’s political group in the European parliament have compared childbearing Muslim women to Osama bin Laden, spoken at a rally with the BNP’s Nick Griffin, and defended some of the far-right views of the Norwegian mass murderer Anders Breivik.
Farage is facing a decision after the May elections over whether to keep Ukip in the Europe for Freedom and Democracy (EFD) group, an alliance of parties from different countries of which he is co-president, amid criticism of the extreme positions of some of its MEPs and examples of anti-Islam rhetoric on its website.
Ukip argues that all British political parties are forced to have “strange bedfellows” in Europe as it allows parties to qualify for more speaking time in the EU parliament. However, MEPs in any such alliance must have “political affinity” or risk being disbanded by the EU and losing their funding.
Some anti-Islam comments appear on the EFD’s own website. In one video, Magdi Cristiano Allam, an MEP from the I Love Italy party, is translated as saying that Islam is not a religion but an ideology “that preaches hatred, violence and death, but that is something we’re not allowed to say”. His comments are made in response to a speaker at an EFD “study day”, who argues against “caving in” to Muslims in Europe and warns of the threat of “Islamisation” of western society.
One politician in the EFD, Slavi Binev from Bulgaria, spoke at Ukip’s conference last year. An interview with Binev on his website says: “If Osama bin Laden symbolises the cruellest aspect of the Islam for the Americans, then the Muslim woman with her numerous children are his European equivalent.”
The group also contains Frank Vanhecke, a Belgian MEP, whose former party Vlaams Blok was disbanded after a court found it violated anti-racism legislation in 2002.
Vanhecke, now an independent, appeared at a student rally with Griffin, the BNP leader, in 2010 and told the Guardian he believes “Islamisation” is a serious problem for Europe.
Another politician in the group is Morten Messerschmidt, a Danish MEP whose youth organisation was given a conviction for incitement to racial hatred in 2002 after it argued crime such as rape was a product of a multi-ethnic society.
Ukip’s biggest partners in the EFD group are the Italian Lega Nord, which is reportedly considering leaving the EFD after the May elections for a tie-up with Marine Le Pen’s far-right French National Front. Farage’s co-president is Francesco Speroni, an Italian MEP from Lega Nord, who defended some of the views of Breivik in 2011 saying: “If [Breivik’s] ideas are that we are going towards Eurabia and those sorts of things, that western Christian civilisation needs to be defended, yes, I’m in agreement.”
Earlier this year, one of the Italian anti-immigrant party’s MPs, Gianluca Buonanno, “blacked up” in the country’s parliament to make a point about the level of benefits for ethnic minorities.
Ukip said Lega Nord would be leaving the EFD alliance after the May elections, but Speroni told the Guardian last night that “any saying about this matter is very premature, nothing has been decided yet”. He also said the EFD would have to check whether it has enough MEPs and member countries to remain “alive” under EU rules after the next election.
The rhetoric of some EFD parties contrasts with Farage’s emphasis that Muslims are welcome in Ukip. The Ukip leader has said he will not go into an alliance with Geert Wilders, the anti-Islam Dutch politician, or the French Front National and publicly rejected the suggestion of Gerard Batten, a senior Ukip MEP, that Muslims should sign a code of conduct.
Arun Kundnani, an academic at New York University and author of The Muslims are Coming!, said it was worrying that a mainstream party such as Ukip has links to people who have expressed ideas of the Islamophobic far right.
“The argument that Islam is not a religion but a totalitarian ideology is the standard line of the US far-right Islamophobic conspiracy theorists,” he said. “The term ‘Islamisation’ also has the same pedigree.”
Mary Honeyball, a Labour MEP, added: “Ukip’s decision to sit alongside such unsavoury groups as Lega Nord speaks volumes about where they really stand in relation to the extreme right.”
Former Ukip MEP Mike Nattrass said the “undesirable” views of some EFD members was one reason he left the party. “All that to me is outrageous,” he said. “Yes, [Farage] did need the numbers to make up the group,” he said. “But [they] don’t need these people. The problem in that group is they don’t all really share the same views. Ukip isn’t anti-Islam actually, though it might be in league with people who are.”
Asked about his views, Vanhecke said he did speak at a Ghent rally “in company of Nick Griffin and MEPs from other rightwing parties” but he does not consider himself anti-Islam because he respects other cultures and would describe himself as a Flemish and European rightwing patriot.
“I do not remember if the theme was Islamisation (I rather think it was not) – but had it been so it would not have been a problem for me,” he said. “I do consider Europe has a serious problem with Islamisation, a threat to fundamental democratic values such as the separation of church and state… and the strict egality between men and women.”
Asked about his views on Muslims, as well as the conviction for racial hatred in 2002, Messerschmidt said: “The board of our youth movement, to which I belonged at that time, was convicted. The text was that a multi-ethnic society would lead to more crime, etc. There was no pointing in the text at specific groups, but a concern about the multi-ethnic ideology, something similar to what Cameron and Merkel have addressed.”
A Ukip spokesman said: “The EFD group is a loose marriage of convenience formed in order to get more speaking time in the European parliament.
“Ukip is a libertarian party which condemns racism and xenophobia. The party does not share a common political platform with others involved in the EFD. All British political parties have strange bedfellows in the European Parliament. For example, the Labour Party participated in a Party of European Socialists (PES) summer camp in 2012 in which gay delegates were confronted with rampant homophobia and threatened with violence. Let Ed Miliband explain that.”
The party said the speaker on Islam at an EFD study day was not an MEP, assistant or adviser to the EFD Group but merely giving a personal view from her experience.
Controversial East Yorkshire politician Godfrey Bloom is standing by his comments after saying it would “be right” for European commissioners to be hanged.
The MEP made the remarks in a speech to the European Parliament on why “the state is an institution of theft”.
They were later uploaded to YouTube, racking up more than four million views.
Mr Bloom’s comments were made as he attacked Brussels bureaucrats for “tax evasion”.
In the speech last November, made while commissioners were in the audience, Mr Bloom said: “I would point out to the commission that the message is getting home to the people of the European Union.
“You are going to find that Eurosceptics are coming back in ever greater numbers.
“And I can tell you worse – as the people get your number, it will not be long before they storm this chamber and they hang you, and they will be right.”
The remarks infuriated civil service trade unions, Mr Bloom said, and he has now been formally reprimanded for them by EU president Martin Schulz.
In a letter, Mr Schulz said he did not show “due respect” and had ignored “human dignity”.
Mr Bloom was unrepentant, although he did clarify he did not want anyone to be hanged.
He made the comments, he said, because he feared civil servants’ finances would lead to a bloody revolt by irate Frenchmen.
Mr Bloom said: “I didn’t actually say I wanted to see them hanged.
“What I said is they probably would end up being hanged, and it would be their own fault.
“They’re going to storm the building like they stormed the Bastille and history will take its course again.”
Mr Bloom said thousands of people had written him letters to agree with what he said.
He believes he tapped into a deep reserve of frustration at high taxes. Mr Bloom said: “People feel they are very heavily taxed, especially the French.
“Everybody feels they are being crippled with high taxation.
“People are really struggling in parts of Hull, with electricity bills, which are frightening, and food bills that are huge on a tiny pension.”
Mr Schulz was unimpressed with the MEP’s words of warning.
Although the reprimand did not impose any actual penalty on him, it included some strong words.
The president wrote: “It is one thing for a member of parliament to forcefully disagree with commission policies.
“It is quite another to call in plenary for the commitment of a crime such as the hanging.”
Mr Bloom sits as an independent MEP after quitting UKIP last year.
He left following a row with party leader Nigel Farage for joking a group of women were “sluts”.
The politician was in hot water before that for referring to countries getting British aid as “bongo bongo land”.
The UKIP Scotland civil war has intensified after 10 party members made a complaint about their top European candidate for allegedly making a series of false statements.
David Coburn, who topped Ukip’s Brussels list for Scotland in controversial circumstances, stands accused of falsely claiming that leader Nigel Farage asked him to stand. The written complaint also alleges that Coburn had described himself as the party’s “Scottish spokesman” when he was not.
Ukip, a party opposed to the EU and mass immigration, has enjoyed success south of the Border and is tipped to be the big winner in May’s election for the European Parliament.
The party was also hoping to win an MEP’s seat in Scotland but the vicious infighting is undermining its efforts.
Until recently, the Scottish party was led by Lord Monckton and chaired by Mike Scott-Hayward. However, both they and other figures believed a Ukip faction – including former candidate Otto Inglis – was planning a coup.
The divisions flared up during Ukip’s internal contest to select candidates for the European election.
Six of the shortlisted candidates, including Monckton and Scott-Hayward, quit the race in protest at the tactics allegedly used by Inglis.
However, the party pushed ahead with the ballot and Coburn, Ukip’s London chair, topped the poll.
Ten Ukip Scotland figures – including Scott-Hayward, one-time fundraiser Malcolm Macaskill and another senior figure, Paul Henke – have now signed an official complaint against Coburn. The letter includes several allegations.
The complaint alleges Coburn “falsely stated” that “Nigel Farage had asked him to put his name forward for MEP selection in Scotland”.
They also allege that Coburn falsely denied making the claim about Farage.
During the recent industrial dispute between Ineos and trade union Unite, the complainants allege Coburn put out a statement in which he “falsely stated” that he was Ukip’s “Scottish spokesman”.
The Glasgow-born candidate has also been accused of falsely saying on television that the six candidates resigned because they did not like the result of the ballot. The 10 members claim these alleged statements amount to breaches of the Ukip constitution and rules.
Following the disputed internal poll, Farage sacked Monckton by email and Scott-Hayward resigned as chair. Misty Thackeray, who is on the right of the party, is now interim chair.
Hencke told the Sunday Herald: “I expect the complaint to be investigated properly. I believe Ukip to be an up-front party run by honourable people. We should have honourable people as candidates.”
The trouble comes after Farage suffered arguably his worst week as party leader. Ukip was forced to suspend an Oxfordshire councillor after he blamed flooding on the decision to legalise gay marriage, while Farage was also criticised for backing an end to the ban on handguns, and saying that women who had children were worth less to City firms.
“We need a proper gun-licensing system which, to a large extent, we already have and I think the ban on handguns is ludicrous,” he said.
He also opened fire at his party’s own manifesto from 2010, saying: “It was drivel, 486 pages of drivel. I didn’t read it … it was a nonsense, and we’ve put that behind us and moved on to a professional footing.”
SNP MEP Alyn Smith said: “Ukip are a total farce and barely exist as a party in Scotland – a fact confirmed by their abysmal showing at the Cowdenbeath by-election where, yet again, in a Scottish election they failed even to hold on to their deposit.”
A UKIP spokesman said: “We have not received said complaint but when we do we will process it according to the party’s rules.”
A Ukip MEP has admitted one of the only reasons he turns up in Brussels is to claim £200,000 in allowances.
Trevor Colman has not done anything in the European Parliament in the last year, and has only taken part in half of votes since 2009.
The South West MEP insisted he could not see the point in making speeches in the Parliament, and instead claimed the taxpayers’ money to fund an anti-EU website.
All MEPs receive a salary of £78,000 but must ‘clock in’ to the Parliament building in order to receive various allowances.
However, Mr Colman has only made speeches or asked questions just 19 times, well behind the average of the five other MEPs in the South West.
Asked whether allowances were a factor influencing his decision, Mr Colman: ‘I wouldn’t say getting the allowances is one of the main motivations, I’m trying to be fair about it, it is a factor, of course it is.’
He was confronted about his expenses during an interview on BBC’s Sunday Politics West show.
Mr Colman said: ‘Why make a speech when you know that it is totally ineffective? That you are there talking to a gallery of about six people, I don’t quite see the point of me doing that.
‘It’s not that I’m not doing anything, I am trying to get us out of this mess and that can only be achieved over here.’
Last year a study found The shocking study found that cosseted MEPs now have incomes up to 20 times higher than the people they represent.
While millions of families across Europe have had their incomes squeezed, most MEPs have enjoyed large increases in their salaries – while continuing to vote through ever-higher budgets for the EU.
The study found that MEPs enjoy an average income of £182,826 including allowances for attendance and travel.
Mr Colman admitted turning up at the European Parliament to ensure he receives his huge allowances, most of which he spends on a website aimed at removing the UK from the European Union.
He added: ‘The European Parliament has no power, it can’t make or change legislation, it has little or no power, we are in fact just a pantomime taking players to make the illusion of giving democracy where none exists.
The BBC found Mr Colman – who is standing down in May – employs five full time staff, who mainly work on the website, another woman who covers Brussels and Strasbourg, and a part time employee.
Graham Watson, a Lib Dem MEP, said: ‘There is a massive amount that goes on in the European parliament and that’s why most of the members are there full time doing their jobs,
‘I’m sorry if Trevor Colman finds it so boring, but I would have to ask the question why did he stand in the first place.’
However Ukip chairman Steve Crowther defended Mr Colman’s conduct.
‘We have a specific job to do and we are elected to do it, that is to campaign and work for Britain to come out of the European Parliament,’ he said.