The Sunday Times says that UKIP "deliberately covered up the fact that one of its MEPs embezzled tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money by pretending to be someone else". We knew Knapman had threatened to resign the UKIP whip over Wise's suspension. Now we're told at least one MEP threatened resignation if Wise wasn't suspended.
Unusually, the most interesting parts of the article are at the end.
Knapman declined to comment. Before suspension, Wise had threatened to expose matters he felt UKIP would rather not have scrutinised. A party source said: “The impression given out is that some within UKIP don’t want to antagonise Wise too much in case he decides to accuse other party bigwigs of doing things they shouldn’t have.”Last week's story alleged that a donation by Farage to subsidise a book actually came from Wise's account. The question remains: if Wise omitted to tell his colleagues that he had used some of his expenses to buy a car and was being investigated by OLAF, why is Knapman clinging to him rather than supporting his - now discredited - party?
Farage has been slightly more subtle.
It has also emerged that for nearly a year Farage has been employing his German wife Kirsten as his personal assistant. She is paid £2,200 a month to act as Farage’s secretary from their home in Kent.This is more like the standard use of the EU gravy train.
Farage, who employs three other staff with his EU allowance, said his wife had replaced a personal assistant. “I need significant secretarial help at home,” he said.
In a piece which doesn't seem to be on its website, The Telegraph details how UKIP MEPs used allowances intended for EU business to pay UKIP officials instead. This is hardly headline stuff, though it does make page six. Specifically, it alleges that
- Knapman used part of his expenses to pay for UKIP's regional organiser in Wales
- Derek Clark paid for two head office staff out of his allowance
- Wise - representing Eastern England - financed a regional organiser in Scotland.
The article quotes Neil Warry saying that "Ukip needs to be seen as whiter than white". By one of those unfortunate accidents, the other piece about UKIP on the same page (which is on the web) reports that a member of UKIP's National Executive Committee, David Abbott, had previously given money to the BNP. UKIP knew this but still allowed him on to the NEC. (Did people who voted for Abbott know of his past?) The article reports Abbott's excuses, which are wholly unconvincing.
UKIP now has no chance of becoming the party of respectable right wing opposition which it might have been. Its dim, self-interested MEPs have been centred on shoring up their own positions rather than building on their election victories to become the fourth force in British politics.