On the run up to the EU elections last May, one of the sticks the media hit Ukip with was that Nigel Farage employed his German wife as his local assistant. Why didn’t the leader of a party which preached British jobs for British people, employ a Brit?
Even the right-wing Daily Mail highlighted the issue and printed a 2004 Farage quote.
‘Ukip MEPs will not employ wives and there will be no exceptions’
MEP Farage’s defence was: “I don’t think anybody else would want to be in my house at midnight, going through emails, getting me briefed for the next day.”
The Boss, as UKIP supporters call him, said: “She would be taken off the payroll following the European elections in May.”
Mrs Farage had to be taken off the payroll. Due to a still unresolved corruption scandal MEPs can no longer employ their relatives.
The scandal started in 2006 with a report by EU Auditor, Robert Galvin, who examined the expenses of 160 MEPs and found widespread abuse estimated at €125 million a year. One area he highlighted was the use of MEP’s €150,000 staff allowance. Many MEPs channelled the money through private companies. One MEP paid the the maximum monthly amount, €12576, to his girlfriend and a number of MEPs, most of them British ,employed their relatives.
The EU parliament has a consistent record of hiding dirty linen and so the Galvin Report was hidden. Its existence was revealed by MEP Chris Davies in 2008 but the MEPs of the Budget Control Committee decided it shouldn’t be published. Finally in 2011 the EU bowed to pressure and the report’s release via Wikileaks and released it themselves.
For MEP scalp-hunters reading the report was disappointing, it does not name names and although the use of public money is shameful, if there are no rules, and there were no rules, you can’t break them.
There were some casualties, MEP Den Dover was thrown out of the Tory party. Between 1999 and 2008 Mr Dover paid his family owned company £960,000 in staffing allowances, The company had two employees, Mr Dover’s wife and daughter and over £200k had gone towards car purchases and home decoration. Although disowned by the Tories, MEP Dover remained MEP Dover until he stood down at the 2009 elections. He was referred to the EU anti-fraud agency, OLAF, but hadn’t done anything illegal.
David Cameron had given Tory MEP leader, Giles Chichester the job of scrutinising MEP expenses but Chichester turned out to be a Inspector Closeau rather than Morse as his investigation revealed he himself had channelled £445,000 through a family firm and was employing his wife as an EU assistant. He resigned as the Tory EU leader but only stood down as an MEP six years later.
The only MEP found to have done anything illegal was UKIP’s Tom Wise, he claimed £36,000 for a parliamentary
assistant but diverted most of it into a secret bank account. He proclaimed innocence at the beginning of his trial at Southwark Crown Court but changed his plea to guilty just before The Boss was to appear as a witness. Wise received a two year prison sentence.
The EU Parliament had to clean up his act and although MEPs voted against making their expenses public they did tighten up staff allowance rules. Accredited assistants based in Brussels and Strasbourg would be paid through the EU and local assistants would be paid through qualified agents. From 2009 MEPs could no longer employ their relatives but to soften this blow, which mainly effected the UK’s representatives, sitting MEPs could keep on existing employees until 2014.
So due to EU regulations Kirsten Farage lost her late-night e-mail sorting job but she’s no benefit tourist and is now an EU local assistant to a UKIP MEP 80 miles away in Hampshire.
Her employer is Ray Finch; elected in May as one of four UKIP South-East region MEPs, a former cable engineer he still earns £5,000 as a Hampshire County Councillor, alongside his £78,000 pa Brussels job but he is just one of multiple MEPs with multiple occupations as compiled by Transparency International. Mr Finch is a busy man, he also works as The Boss’s assistant and will soon start campaigning as parliamentary candidate for Lewes in Sussex.
Being anti-EU means UKIP MEPs can bend EU rules . Supporters see them as mischievous and somehow different from the greedy sleaze ridden establishment.
So Ukip MEPs fill the ranks of poor attendance in Brussels as recorded by Votewatch. They are still the only UK party who refuses to have their MEPs expenses audited.
In October their EU Parliament group, EFDD, collapsed when a Latvian MEP left due to some shady manoeuvring by Parliament President Martin Schulz. UKIP were desperate to keep the millions of Euros and exposure provided to official groups but EU groups must include MEPs from at least seven of the 28 countries so they invited Polish MEP Robert Iwaszkiewicz to join.
Iwaszkiewicz is a member of the Polish Congress of the New Right, which is led by wacky Janusz Korwin-Mikke and is really the Janusz Korwin-Mikke Party.
UKIP can’t be associated with a party that has problems with democracy. women’s rights and the official history of the holocaust so they claim Iwaszkiewicz has joined them as an individual.
The anti-Ukip media have stayed largely silent. Any controversy just seems to increase Ukip’s popularity. Their poll ratings and membership are soaring, they have their first MP and will likely have a second after the Rochester by-election on the 20th November. Even the EU Commission is helping out by sending the UK a surprise £1.7BN bill
But in the run-in to the July 2015 UK elections UKIP will unleash hundreds of media-naïve council and parliamentary candidates like wildebeest across the serengeti. The press pack will return, hunting fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists and they will pick up the councillor and leaders wife stick and hit The Boss with it.