A dozen British MEPs, one of whom is Nigel Farage, are suspected by the European Parliament of having unlawfully claimed substantial funds. These were used to pay hundreds of thousands of euros to assistants who did not actually work at the Parliament (currently a political hot potato). A parliamentary source made this public yesterday (Thursday).
The Parliamentary Services branch evaluated this at more than 580,000 euros, the total amounts that these MEPs would have to repay.
This is provided that there are no forthcoming satisfactory explanations on the work carried out by these assistants. The source stated this to the Agence France Presse (AFP), confirming information from the daily newspaper, The Guardian.
This new matter is a consequence of checks made by the Parliament’s administration within the wake of a previous internal enquiry.
The latter revealed that last year a European party, Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe, dominated by UKIP, had unlawfully used EU funds. This had, in particular, occurred as part of the Brexit campaign. It had led the Parliament to request the reimbursement of nearly 173,000 euros from the ADDE.
The list of MEPs affected by the new internal investigation includes the Brexit figure Nigel Farage. A speech he made on Wednesday to the European Parliament was disrupted by a Labour MEP brandishing a small sign upon which was written “He is lying to you”, with an arrow directed to Mr Farage.
The matter also concerns his successor as the head of UKIP, Paul Nuttall, as well as the MEP, Raymond Finch. Finch was sharing payment of the same parliamentary assistant, Christopher Adams with Farage.
Farage’s wife, who was employed as the assistant of another UKIP MEP, was on the list of eight targeted assistants, the contracts of whom have been suspended. Recovery of the outstanding amounts has yet started.
The Parliament’s administration is of the view that the actual activity of these assistants, who were paid by means of a financial envelope set aside for each MEP, had no link to their employer’s role as an MEP. The administration is of the view that the activity of these individuals instead related to UKIPs national activities in the UK.
A UKIP spokesperson reacted, “We are appealing these allegations.” He took the opportunity to lament the “vindictive nature” of the European Parliament’s administration given the now “post-Brexit” context in which the institution is working.