UKIP MEP Amjad Bashir has been suspended for alleged financial irregularities and employment concerns just moments before he was due to announce his defection to the Conservatives. UKIP leader Nigel Farage said there were “extremely serious” questions that Bashir had not answered, with allegations including claims of interference in the candidate selection process.
The MEP, who represents Yorkshire and the Humber, has been informed of the allegations, and a UKIP spokesman said the evidence obtained has been passed to the police.
“The UK Independence Party has a zero-tolerance policy and takes the matters at hand extremely seriously,” the spokesman said.
“The allegations against Mr Bashir are of a grave nature and we will be forwarding our evidence obtained so far to the police.
“Ukip will not tolerate anyone abusing their positions in the party, as we have a firm commitment to differing ourselves from the existing political classes.
“As a result, Mr Bashir’s involvement with the party was suspended today with immediate effect pending further investigations.”
The suspension came as the MEP prepared to announce his defection to the Conservative Party. Mr Bashir said that he had already met Prime Minister David Cameron who was “absolutely delighted” with his decision.
He had told the BBC: “I think it is right that I make good the promises I made to my electorate and join a party that is able to deliver those promises.
“The only party that is able to and is offering the referendum is the Conservative Party and they have the ability to deliver that.”
Bashir was UKIP’s communities spokesman and had previously defended the party against accusations of racism, and insisted racial and religious issues had nothing to do with his decision to leave the party.
A statement on UKIP’s website says: “Mr Bashir has been informed of the specifics of the investigations which include unanswered financial and employment questions, interference with UKIP candidate selection processes and a continued affiliation with Mujeeb Bhutto, despite the party’s protests against Mr Bhutto’s involvement with Mr Bashir or UKIP.”
Mujeeb Bhutto is a former UKIP activist who was revealed to be the former leader of a Pakistani kidnapping gang.
It is not known whether the Conservatives will investigate any of the allegations against Bashir.