Another member of UKIP has stirred up a fresh sleaze scandal for Nigel Farage’s party after offering to pay for a woman’s holiday if she slept with him.
In a string of messages sent openly by Bradford South candidate Jason Smith on his Facebook page to an unnamed woman, he begs to see her in a bikini.
And when she says she can squeeze into his holiday suitcase, he responds by inviting her along, writing: “As long as I can sleep with you.”
When the Sunday Mirror contacted Mr Smith, 43, he shrugged off the incident, saying: “We all do it.”
It is the latest controversy to hit UKIP after general secretary Roger Bird, 41, was accused of sexually harassing Natasha Bolter, 35.
Last night Labour MP Chi Onwurah said of Mr Smith’s Facebook exchanges: “These comments are utterly inappropriate on a platform where anyone can see them – even children.
“This shows more and more that UKIP see women in sexist stereotypes. Their attitudes to women are rather out of touch with the lives of real women today.
“The more scrutiny there is, the more we see what UKIP candidates and their politicians really think about people – men and women, black and white – and why they’re not fit to represent this country today.”
Mr Smith, the party’s Bradford and district chairman since 2004, has claimed his constituency is a key seat in the May 2015 General Election.
His personal Facebook page is plastered with UKIP logos and anti-Labour propaganda.
But just over 12 months ago, he used the same profile to exchange the sexually charged messages with the woman.
In one, he describes her as a “special friend” after writing: “LOL – actually the thought of seeing you in a bikini might be worth paying for you.”
He continued: “I am prepared to pay for you (put up with you) to go on holiday with me as long as I can sleep with you (I’ve secretly always wanted to be in pain) ROFL!!”
Responding to a comment, he says: “I f’kin miss you too – still remember the day you told me about your ladies bits – lol! Hope you’re life is great, your [sic] a gem. Shalom!! x”
n an online biography, Mr Smith brags he has an IQ of 155 and describes himself as a lecturer and philosopher.
Last night he accused opposition parties of “stalking” UKIP members, saying: “The woman is one of my best friends.
“Real people in the real world will look at this and think, ‘We all do this sort of thing, we all have banter on social media, we all have friends of the opposite sex’.
“I’m basically being stalked by other parties because they don’t have an answer to our policies.”
Earlier this week Roger Bird released intimate text messages alleged to have been from mum-of-three Ms Bolter as he fought to prove he had had a consensual sexual relationship with.
Ms Bolter claimed he had propositioned her and tried to kiss her as she was seeking selection for a target seat.
UKIP’s main man in Bradford has shrugged off national newspaper reports he offered to pay for a woman’s holiday in exchange for sex.
The party’s Bradford chairman, Jason Smith, said he made the comments as a joke to a friend on his private Facebook page.
Mr Smith, who is divorced, said: “It was basically a total joke with a friend. I was going on holiday with a friend and another friend said, ‘Can I go?’ and it kind of went from there.
“We had a bit of a joke. I said, ‘You can come if you sleep with me’. It was a laugh-laugh, joke-joke type thing.”
Mr Smith, who is standing in Bradford South in next year’s general election, said his party had been unconcerned by the headlines.
He said he suspected political opponents had been trawling his personal Facebook page looking for scandal.
He said: “If that’s the best they can do, it’s shocking.”
Any suggestion that his comments were sexist were “ridiculous”, he added.
Tonight, as Ukip is holding its selection meeting for the constituency of Basildon South, a letter from the Ukip finance committee querying expenses claims made by the former Tory MP Neil Hamilton has been seen by Channel 4 News
The fact this letter was written on the day that Neil Hamilton was due to appear at the selection meeting in Basildon reflects the deep concerns within the Ukip high command about him becoming the party’s candidate in one of Ukip’s most promising seats.
Previously the Ukip hierarchy barred Mr Hamilton from the party lists for the European elections last May and from the selection contest in Boston and Skegness.
With less than an hour to go before the selection meeting, Mr Hamilton described the leaking of the letter as “a dirty trick” to deliberately destabilise the hustings, saying some of the queries it contained had already been answered.
Given that he had only just seen it, no point-by-point response to the issues raised has yet been forthcoming from Mr Hamilton.
The letter begins:
Dear Neil Hamilton,
To assist you in focusing your mind on Ukip’s simple and not unreasonable request that you explain your expenses claims. Would you please provide details of the following to the F&RC Committee;
1. In the case of each and every mileage claim, detail where you went, who you saw and why you had to make this trip.
2. Provide the invoice for each disbursement that you say you have incurred, detailing why this disbursement was incurred, and in the case of a lunch for example, whom you were having lunch with and for what purpose.
3. Provide an explanation of each stay that has been charged for your wife’s flat detailing why it was more convenient for you to stay there, rather than at your house.
4. State who agreed that you were able to charge for staying in your wife’s flat post the European elections.
The letter also provides confirmation that Mr Hamilton was deposed from his paid job as Ukip campaign manager for the European elections:
5. Prior to the European elections, please confirm who agreed that you would be able to charge for your stay in your wife’s flat , and obviously at the same time set out why, and where you were that required that you utilise this flat on a specific day.
– More particularly what interested the committee is why, after you were removed from the job that you were originally allocated prior to the European elections, you continued to use this flat as you were no longer performing that role.
6. To assist you, [Redacted] has specifically told us that he did not agree for you to charge VAT on the salary you received prior to the European Election. We have seen the email trail and would like an explanation as to why you did not go back to those who agreed this salary and why you did not make it known that you intended to charge VAT on your salary by charging Ukip through a company for your services as this incurred Ukip in extra costs. It is accepted that Ukip would have had to pay employer’s NI which is substantially less than VAT.
– What is wrong here, is that you failed to go back to the management committee to clear the arrangement knowing that Ukip was at all times during this campaign short of money.
7. To further assist you, in respect of expenses claimed with your new role, (Deputy Chairman Regions) [Redacted] has specifically told us that you could claim expenses for any tasks that he requested you to carry out. Accordingly can you please provide, for each item of work, confirmation that this was specifically done at [Redacted]‘s behest.
We note that you have withdrawn your claim for attendance and stay at the Doncaster Conference as you now say that it was wrongly put in due to a “fit of pique” – whatever that means.
We further note that you are no longer proceeding with this claim at all. We find this somewhat surprising particularly as, if the expenses can be substantiated, as set out above, there no reason for Ukip not to pay it or for you to withdraw the claim!
We need to place on record that we knew nothing of any expense claims you had put into Ukip until [Redacted] brought the expense claim that you have now withdrawn to my attention because [Redacted] had been asked on a couple of occasions by your wife to pay this invoice and [Redacted] felt that we ought to see it to confirm that payment was in order. In addition, prior to this, the NEC had asked for greater information to be provided to them on Ukip’s finances and expenses and no doubt this is what prompted [Redacted] to mention this to us as he was concerned by it.
We hope the above will assist you in providing the information that is required to substantiate your claims. You have already had over a month to assemble this information and the F& RC committee should be obliged to receive this information by close of business Friday 19th December, particularly, as [Redacted] has pointed out to us, Ukip’s year end is 31stDecember.
Please do bear in mind that we receive at Lexdrum House handwritten letters from pensioners enclosing a £5 or a £10 note which they have managed to save so as to send it to Ukip and hence we need to make sure that all expenses are fully explainable.
Mr Hamilton became a hugely controversial figure whilst serving as a Tory MP over allegations that he took cash in brown envelopes for asking parliamentary questions, which he has always denied.
Whatever the outcome of the allegations, this is yet more evidence of discord within Ukip.
Neil Hamilton questioned by UKIP over expense claims he has made while deputy chairman of the party as he steps down from selection in Basildon SouthPosted: December 28, 2014
Former Tory MP is under scrutiny from the Ukip finance committee
He allegedly claimed expenses for staying at wife Christine’s London flat
Details emerged in leaked letter, which Hamilton described as ‘dirty tricks’
Calls for party’s national executive committee to take action
Says Channel Four saw leaked letter before he did
Details of claims emerged before Hamilton pulled out of Essex vote
Tells party members he only stood as a local councillor was excluded
Gave his backing to Kerry Smith, who was later selected for the seat
Neil Hamilton stepped down from Ukip selection tonight as it emerged he was facing questions over expenses claims he made as deputy chairman of the party.
The former Tory MP is under scrutiny from the Ukip finance committee over expenses he allegedly claimed for staying at his wife Christine’s London flat.
Details of the expenses claims emerged in a leaked letter before Mr Hamilton told party members at a hustings meeting in Essex that he would not be standing for election there.
He had been one of five candidates in the running to become Ukip’s candidate for the seat of South Basildon and East Thurrock.
Mr Hamilton made the announcement before hustings began at the meeting, saying he had only stood because a local councillor, Kerry Smith, had been deselected as the party’s prospective parliamentary candidate for the seat in October, only to be later reinstated.
Announcing his decision to step aside and backing of Mr Smith, Mr Hamilton told the BBC: ‘He should never has been deselected in the first place, in my opinion, and he will make an excellent member of parliament for Basildon.’
‘I would not have put my hat into the ring if I’d known that Kerry was going to be a candidate.
‘I didn’t know until I got here that his name was included in the ballot paper.’
Mr Smith was later selected for the seat.
Last month, Mr Hamilton withdrew from the race to become UKIP’s candidate for Boston and Skegness.
In response to the leaked letter, Mr Hamilton lashed out at party insiders over a ‘dirty tricks’ campaign being run against him.
And he called for the party’s national executive committee (NEC) to take action against those involved in the ‘black arts of selective briefing, misrepresentation and outright lies’.
Tonight, Channel 4 News political correspondent Michael Crick revealed that Mr Hamilton had been sent a letter asking him to explain ‘each and ever mileage claim’ he has made, as well as details on lunches.
He was also asked to provide ‘an explanation of each stay that has been charged for your wife’s flat detailing why it was more convenient for you to stay there, rather than at your house’.
Mr Hamilton was also asked to state why he charged VAT on his salary from the party during his time as campaign manager in the run-up to the European elections, a job the letter said he was subsequently ‘removed’ from.
The letter, leaked to Channel 4 News, said the committee had been told that the arrangement had not been agreed.
‘We have seen the email trail and would like an explanation as to why you did not go back to those who agreed this salary and why you did not make it known that you intended to charge VAT on your salary by charging Ukip through a company for your services as this incurred Ukip in extra costs.
‘It is accepted that Ukip would have had to pay employer’s NI which is substantially less than VAT.
‘What is wrong here, is that you failed to go back to the management committee to clear the arrangement knowing that Ukip was at all times during this campaign short of money.’
The letter, which was sent today, signed off by telling Mr Hamilton: ‘Please do bear in mind that we receive at Lexdrum House handwritten letters from pensioners enclosing a £5 or a £10 note which they have managed to save so as to send it to Ukip and hence we need to make sure that all expenses are fully explainable.’
Mr Hamilton said tonight that Mr Crick had seen the letter before he had.
‘It is sad that some people in UKIP have adopted the black arts of selective briefing, misrepresentation and outright lies which Ukip rightly excoriates in the LibLabCon,’ he said.
‘It is time for the NEC, directly elected by the Party’s hard-working members, to cut out this cancer at the heart of Ukip which undermines its integrity.’
Mr Hamilton said he had predicted the correspondence about his expenses would be leaked and insisted he had been given assurances the inquiry into claims was a general one, rather than targeted at him.
He said: ‘Andrew Reid’s letter was written this afternoon and leaked to C4’s Michael Crick before I had even seen it.
The correspondence of which it is part, and which explains my position, has not been leaked and, therefore, a deliberately misleading view has been created, calculated to inflict maximum damage on me.’
He added: ‘The assistant treasurer of Ukip explicitly said to me at the outset that the expenses inquiry is general and not specific to me, arises because Ukip is short of funds and that there was no suggestion of any impropriety on my part.
‘The demand now for receipts, when I was explicitly told they were not necessary, may have been in included in this letter to convey an impression of malpractice on my part.
‘There are no grounds whatsoever of suspecting me of any impropriety.
‘Certain individuals have axes to grind against me and this is part of their continuing dirty tricks campaign.
‘Only a small handful of people could have leaked this letter and a glance at the names should make it perfectly obvious who the culprit or culprits are likely to be.
‘I have worked selflessly to advance UKIP’s interest for 12 years, entirely at my own expense until I became a party employee as European campaign director on September 1, 2013, an appointment which ceased on May 31, 2014 since when I have been unpaid but entitled to my expenses.’
Mr Hamilton’s bid to stand for Ukip in South Basildon and East Thurrock followed the withdrawal of Natasha Bolter from the race.
She had been embroiled in a row over claims of sexual harassment against a senior Ukip official, who has subsequently been suspended.
General secretary Roger Bird insisted he was not a ‘predator’ and was confident a full party inquiry would clear his name.
He published a file of personal messages which he says show he was in a relationship with Ms Bolter.
She says she felt pressured to sleep with the man overseeing candidate approvals in order to further her potential career in the Eurosceptic outfit.
Ms Bolter – who defected from Labour in a blaze of publicity and was introduced on stage at this year’s Ukip conference by Mr Bird – said that although he propositioned her, he was a ‘gentleman’ when she declined.
Mr Bird, who is single, insists however that they enjoyed a six-week consensual, sexual relationship that began a week after she had been approved to join the approved candidates list.
The former Conservative councillor, who quit the Tories in 2009 and switched to Ukip the following year, released part of what he said was a large collection of emails, texts and photographs which backed his side of the story.
He said the liaison began ‘some time after’ the candidate assessment and was ended by him on November 2.
Among the messages he said were received from Ms Bolter, one read: ‘But I love u and miss u and think u r sort of perfect.’
Another, apparently referring to the close of the Ukip conference in Doncaster, read: ‘R u still cool with me leaving suitcase here and coming home with u? Xx.’
Others expressed sentiments such as ‘really missing u bird’, ‘U r not coming back and accordingly my life will go back to a meaningless void” and “U r a really great mentor bird’.
‘Natasha Bolter and I were in a consensual relationship. This took place some time after her candidate assessment,’ Mr Bird said. ‘All of the suggestions that I was being some kind of predator and all the rest of it is entirely unsubstantiated by the facts.’
Ms Bolter agreed that she had sent a series of messages but told BBC2’s Newsnight: ‘None of them changes my story.’
‘I did not sleep with Roger Bird, end of,’ she said.
In an interview for the programme, she said: ‘When I said no, nothing happened. He’s a gentleman.
‘I never felt scared of him, I just felt pressured maybe, that if I did the right thing my career would go faster and further.”
‘He wasn’t taking me seriously as a candidate; he was looking at me as a sex object.’
She said the issue could have been dealt with by way of a ‘tap on the wrist’ if the party had acted more swiftly, and both parties continued.
But she suggested it was part of a wider issue.
‘We need to look at it in the greater picture: if they are not looking after a candidate that is going to stand in one of their target seats who is bringing forward serious allegations of sexism and racism and misogyny, are they really going to look after our electorate.’
Mr Bird said he ‘really could not even hazard a guess’ at why she might wish to invent a claim against him.
‘I suspect that perhaps she’s fallen out of love with Ukip for reasons unconnected to me,’ he said.
Nigel Farage must throw open his books to an independent auditor if he is to remain a “credible” politician, the former head of Westminster’s sleaze watchdog has said.
The Ukip leader is under pressure to explain what happened to almost £60,000 in EU funds which The Times revealed he said that he spent on a West Sussex office given to him rent-free.
This week Olaf, the EU’s anti-fraud office, is expected to decide whether it will pursue a full investigation into the Ukip leader after a former senior party official made an official complaint.
Sir Alistair Graham, chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life from 2003 to 2007, said that Mr Farage must open his books to explain what happened to the money. “I’m sure if he wants to be a credible European candidate in future he should be accountable in that way,” he said. Referring to Mr Farage’s comments on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last week when the MEP said that he would be open to allowing an independent auditor to inspect accounts “if that would settle the argument”, Sir Alistair said: “I think he should keep to his public statement and we can all be satisfied that there’s detailed information to back up his claims that the money has been used appropriately.
He said it was “ridiculous” for Mr Farage to claim that he was being unfairly picked out for questions about his use of allowances. “I just don’t think that’s a tenable argument,” he said. “In the end its public money — whether it’s European money or UK public money it doesn’t really matter. It all comes from taxpayers’ taxes and therefore whoever uses that money has to be accountable for guaranteeing to the public its being used in an appropriate fashion to fulfil your public duties.”
Under EU rules, MEPs receive ¤4,299 a month to pay for an office and expenses incurred in carrying out constituency work in their home country. The money is paid into an MEP’s personal bank account with no requirement to provide the European Parliament with receipts or a breakdown to show it has been spent within the rules.
Criticising the “incredible” arrangement, Sir Alistair said it was a “monstrously loose and ineffective system”.
He added: “It’s a wanton waste of public money that you can allow someone to claim without providing receipts. If you think in the UK system at one time you could only claim up to £250 with receipts and they’ve even stopped that now.”
Sir Alistair said the European Parliament’s system was wide open to abuse.
Ukip also faces questions over nearly £300,000 that was paid out from Mr Farage’s local branch in 2004 and 2005 as unexplained “other costs”, when even payments for as little as £496 on communications were itemised.
Six former officials and whistleblowers have come forward to allege that they were silenced, ignored or forced out of the party after questioning its use of EU funds and donations. Ukip has described their claims as “historical”, derriding them as “very unimpressive people” who the party had weeded out.
The remarks by the former standards chief came as it emerged that Neil Hamilton had been demoted from his role as Ukip’s campaigns director.
The former Tory minister caused a headache for Mr Farage at his party’s conference when the Ukip leader was confronted over the ex-MP’s involvement in the cash-for-questions scandal.
He insisted that Mr Hamilton was merely the “backroom boy”, but Mr Hamilton contradicted him. “I haven’t been in the backroom today, have I?” he asked reporters after coming off the podium.
The decision to axe Mr Hamilton from the campaign role suggests that Ukip is sensitive to suggestions of impropriety, despite attacking last week’s Times reports as a smear campaign.
The former Tory has been replaced by the party’s new director of communications, Patrick O’Flynn.
The negative headlines appear to have done little to damage Mr Farage. A poll by Survation for The Mail on Sunday, showed the party topping a Westminster constituency for the first time. The survey of 506 voters in Eastleigh, where the party came second in last year’s by-election, put Ukip in first place on 32 per cent.
Nigel Farage is using a private company to reduce his tax bill on his media appearances, it has emerged.
The Ukip leader diverts money from appearances in the media and on the lecture circuit into a firm called Thorn In The Side Ltd.
It means that last year he paid only 20% corporation tax on profits of £45,000, instead of 40% income tax.
Farage has previously criticised people who try to avoid tax as the ‘common enemy’.
The details of his tax affairs emerged on Mail Online ahead of his live TV debate with Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg.
The use of personal service companies is not illegal, but has been criticised across the political spectrum as a way to reduce tax bills.
Companies House records show that in 2012-13 Thorn In The Side Limited made a profit of £45,488.
If this had been declared as income he would have paid £21,883.03 in 40% income tax and national insurance.
But by using Thorn In The Side as a personal service company, he will have only paid £9,097.60 in corporation tax, plus taxes on his dividend.
As an MEP, Farage also earns £78,000-a-year from Brussels and employs his wife Kirsten on the taxpayer, on a salary of up to £20,000.
Thorn In The Side Ltd was incorporated in 2011 and Farage is the only director, owning 100 per cent of shares.
Last year Farage was branded a ‘hypocrite’ after admitting he opened an offshore trust fund to slash his tax bill while campaigning against tax avoidance.
He set up a scheme on the Isle of Man for ‘”inheritance purposes” but later claimed he never used it, adding: “It was a mistake. I’m not rich enough.”
The BBC has faced criticism for allowing star presenters to have their wages paid into such companies, which means they end up paying less tax. Ukip did not respond to telephone calls asking for a response.