UKIP leader Nigel Farage has hit back at allegations that he had £60,000 of “missing” EU money paid into his personal bank account, describing the claims as “politically motivated”.
A source named only as a former senior UKIP official has sent a complaint about Mr Farage to the EU anti-fraud office OLAF.
The allegations centre around Mr Farage’s constituency office in Bognor Regis, West Sussex. He has received £15,500 per year from the EU since at least 2009 to cover the cost of running the office, yet, according to The Times, the office was given to him rent-free by supporters over 15 years ago.
Utilities and other costs amount to £3,000 a year, according to the former office manager, leaving about £12,000 a year unaccounted for.
Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Mr Farage said MEPs do not claim expenses for running offices, but receive allowances that they may spend as they see fit.
He described the Times article as “yet another politically motivated attack from what is the establishment newspaper,” accusing the paper of “wilfully misleading people”.
He said that the party had used the extra money to promote the cause of Britain leaving the EU, and that UKIP MEPs are taking exactly the same amount of money as all other British MEPs.
This is the latest in a long line of expenses controversies to hit UK politicians.
Last week, Culture Secretary Maria Miller was forced to resign after a drawn out row over her own expenses claims. She had claimed over £90,000 in parliamentary expenses for the mortgage and upkeep of a house where her parents lived.
It also emerged that she made a £1 million profit on the sale of another property by declaring it her main home for tax purposes, when she had previously declared it her “second home”, thus allowing her to claim expenses to help pay the mortgage.
Mr Farage has also made numerous enemies during as time as party leader.
Last month, MEP Nikki Sinclaire, who formerly sat for UKIP but has since formed her own party, used EU Parliamentary privilege to make allegations about an extra-marital affair that Farage may have had. She accused him of using EU funds to pay both his wife and a ‘mistress’ who worked for him. She has yet to repeat these allegations outside the chamber.
Another former UKIP MEP, Marta Andreasen, quit the party and joined the Conservatives last year, accusing Farage of being “dictatorial” and treating the party as his “plaything to mould and shape as he sees fit”.
Mr Farage said today that he is taking legal advice.