Police quiz Farage ‘lover’ over claim she faked sex attack by Tory who says case wrecked his marriagePosted: January 25, 2015
Annabelle Fuller was questioned under caution by police last week
It was claimed she falsely accused Andrew Bridgen of sexual offences
Mr Bridgen was arrested in 2011 after being accused of groping her
The case collapsed when Ms Fuller later withdrew the allegations
The Tory politician said the case ruined his marriage and family life
Ms Fuller has been described in past as Nigel Farage’s ‘former mistress’
She and the Ukip party leader strenuously deny ever having an affair
Nigel Farage faced embarrassment last night as it emerged that Scotland Yard formally questioned his alleged ‘ex-mistress’ over claims that she fabricated a sexual assault case against a Tory MP.
Detectives quizzed Annabelle Fuller under caution last week following suggestions that she falsely accused Andrew Bridgen of touching her inappropriately. Officers are understood to be close to concluding their investigation.
It is the latest development in an astonishing saga which started in June 2011 when Mr Bridgen, 50, was arrested after Ms Fuller said he had groped her on the balcony of his Westminster flat.
The charges were dropped shortly afterwards when Ms Fuller, a former aide to the Ukip leader, withdrew her allegations.
The MP for North West Leicestershire says the case wrecked his marriage and he now has limited contact with his children.
Detectives have gained access to Ms Fuller’s phone records to check her account of events with people she spoke to that night.
The 33-year-old was described as Farage’s ‘former mistress’ under parliamentary privilege last year in Strasbourg by former Ukip MEP Nikki Sinclaire.
Both Mr Farage and Ms Fuller strongly deny an affair, and Ms Fuller has since stopped working for the party.
She claimed that the 2011 incident arose after she met Mr Bridgen at a Westminster pub with a civil servant, and all three went to the MP’s flat after midnight to discuss military charities.
She ran from the property in the early hours, grabbing Mr Bridgen’s BlackBerry and Commons pass as evidence.
A security guard called police, and Ms Fuller told them Mr Bridgen reached up her skirt and touched her bottom and leg. Despite the charges being dropped, Mr Bridgen and his wife Jackie soon divorced.
Scotland Yard’s investigation into Ms Fuller was launched after claims by Jasna Badzak, a former Ukip official who says she exchanged messages with Ms Fuller following the incident, and that Ms Fuller boasted of seeing messages from David Cameron on Mr Bridgen’s BlackBerry.
Last month, Ms Badzak was sent a police ‘Prevention of Harassment’ letter for talking to The Mail on Sunday, on the grounds that it led to Ms Fuller being ‘subjected to numerous phone calls and emails’.
The police action prompted Tory MP Zac Goldsmith to write to London Mayor Boris Johnson urging him to investigate whether officers were abusing their position by trying to stop a newspaper investigation of Ukip.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said: ‘A 33-year-old woman attended a Central London police station on Wednesday 14th January, where she was interviewed under caution. Inquiries are ongoing.’
Ukip said: ‘This case is being investigated and it would be inappropriate to comment further.’
Ms Fuller declined to comment. Mr Bridgen said that it would be ‘inappropriate to comment’.
Solihull politician will appear before magistrates in Birmingham to face allegations over travel expenses
Former West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire is set to appear in court accused of making false expenses claims and money laundering following a lengthy police investigation.
Ms Sinclaire is due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates Court on 17 September to face allegations that she made false and dishonest submissions for travelling expenses and transferred the proceeds of fraud through a bank account in her name.
The offences are alleged to have taken place between October 2009 and July 2010 when Ms Sinclaire was a serving Member of the European Parliament.
The 45-year-old, of Velsheda Road, Shirley, was originally arrested on in February 2012 and has since been on police bail. Three other members of the public were also arrested but will face no further action.
Throughout the investigation West Midlands Police has been working jointly with officers from the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF).
Simon Orme, lawyer with the Crown Prosecution Service special crime division, said: “The CPS has authorised West Midlands Police to charge Ms Nicole Sinclaire, former MEP for the West Midlands, with the offences of money laundering and misconduct in public office.
“It is alleged that between October 2009 and July 2010, whilst serving as an MEP, Ms Sinclaire used funds paid into her bank account by the European Parliament in respect of false travelling expenses claims.
“Ms Sinclaire has also been charged with Misconduct in a Public Office with regard to her actions.
“The decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
“Criminal proceedings have now commenced and Ms Sinclaire has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings.”
When contacted by the Mail Ms Sinclaire said: “That’s the first I’ve heard about money laundering. The charge is misconduct in a public office.
“I will make a comment at a later time.”
The ex-MEP lost her seat in the May elections for the European parliament.
She was elected MEP in June 2009 as a UKIP candidate but later resigned from the Europe of Freedom and Democracy group in which UKIP is part of in the European Parliament, citing the alleged extreme right-wing views of some of the group’s members.
Subsequently Sinclaire sat as an Independent MEP from January 2010 until in September 2012 she set up the We Demand a Referendum party.
Although mainly known for her Eurosceptic views, Sinclaire has campaigned on other issues affecting West Midlands people, from jobs and the environment to human rights.
A Conservative MP who claims that he was falsely accused of sexually assaulting Nigel Farage’s ‘former mistress’ has spoken for the first time about how the incident cost him his marriage and family.
Andrew Bridgen said that Annabelle Fuller, a Ukip spokeswoman, had ‘ruined his life’ after claiming she was groped on the balcony of his Westminster flat in June 2011.
Police were told by an informant last month that Miss Fuller, 32, had concocted the claim after stealing his phone and later confessed she had ‘stitched him up’.
Last week it emerged that detectives have launched a formal investigation into the matter, and Miss Fuller could face being prosecuted for perverting the course of justice if the claims are proven.
After leaving the House of Commons on June 8, 2011, Mr Bridgen stopped for a drink at the Marquis of Granby pub opposite his flat.
He said that going to the pub ‘was probably the biggest mistake of my life’.
After being introduced to Miss Fuller and meeting a civil servant at the pub, who was a mutual acquaintance, the three later went back to Mr Bridgen’s flat.
Mr Bridgen said that Miss Fuller used the bathroom a number of times to make phone calls and on one occasion began complaining about a man she called ‘the bane of my life’.
He said: ‘She added something about the difference between a girlfriend and a mistress is that a girlfriend can start to relax after the third or fourth date, but a mistress has to be perfect all the time.’
Mr Bridgen, 49, who now lives apart from his wife Jackie and their two sons, said he couldn’t talk much more about the incident because of an ongoing police investigation.
After the balcony incident, Miss Fuller left the flat and within hours police had arrested Mr Bridgen.
He spent ten hours being quizzed at a police station, where he had a DNA swab and his blood taken.
The case was dropped within days when Miss Fuller gave police a statement saying that her behaviour could have been construed as flirting.
Later that month, she chose to break the anonymity which is afforded to alleged victims reporting sexual offences to tell her story to a national newspaper.
In that interview she claimed she grazed her head as she ran barefoot from the flat and a security guard made the call to police after seeing her distressed.
She said she didn’t know Mr Bridgen was an MP when she met him in the pub and only took the MP’s phone and Commons security pass as evidence of where she had been.
She added she never wanted the case against the MP to go ahead and that she had been left ‘suicidal’ after Mr Bridgen threatened to sue over the false accusations.
Six days after the incident, police told him they would not be pursuing the complaint, Mr Bridgen said, but the damage to his reputation had been done as his name was already in the news.
‘Every time you Google my name that incident comes up,’ he said.
‘She waived her anonymity to give her salacious version of what happened.
‘I never had the option of my name not appearing.
‘I was a falsely accused man with nowhere to hide.
‘Those two-and-a-half hours with Annabelle Fuller have ruined my life.
‘The events of that night and the huge media intrusion of my wife and children that followed led to the end of my marriage.’
He added: ‘I believe the moment I was introduced to her as an MP I was targeted.’
Last month, MEP Nikki Sinclaire – a former Ukip member – used parliamentary privilege to claim that Miss Fuller had been Mr Farage’s mistress.
The pair have always denied the claims.
Mr Bridgen added that he completely sympathised with former deputy speaker Nigel Evans, who was cleared in court of rape and other allegations on Thursday.
A police spokesman last night said: ‘The Metropolitan Police received information relating to an alleged false claim of sexual assault.
‘The man who was the subject of the allegedly false claim was informed that this has now moved forward into a formal police investigation.’
Last night, Annabelle Fuller said: ‘I have not been arrested, interviewed or questioned by police in regard to this matter.’
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.
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.