Campaigners called last night for all 78 British MEPs to stop employing relatives immediately to prevent any suspicion that public money was being misused. New Members of the European Parliament will be banned from hiring relatives, but those already employed can stay until 2014.
After the Westminster expenses scandal and less than a week before next Thursday’s European vote, the spotlight is now focusing on MEPs’ generous and largely unregulated expenses. MEPs were under pressure yesterday to publish receipts showing how they are spending their £3,800-a-month office allowances. Mats Persson, research director of Open Europe said: “It is not acceptable for any MEP to continue employing members of their family.”
Nigel Farage, the UKIP leader, pays his wife Kirsten up to £30,000 to work as his secretary. He boasted last week that he had received a “vast sum” in expenses and allowances since becoming an MEP in 1999. “I don’t know what the total amount is but, oh lor, it must be pushing £2 million.”
Tom Wise, ex UKIP now independent MEP for East of England, was charged last month with his researcher with false accounting and money laundering.
Another ex UKIP MEP Ashley Mote was jailed for benefit fraud!
Sixteen of the 27 Conservative MEPs have relatives working for them. Nirj Deva, MEP for South East England, pays his wife up to £40,000 a year.
Den Dover MEP was expelled from the Conservative party for paying about £750,000 in staff and office allowances to a family owned firm HP Holdings last year, thus directly benefiting his wife and daughter.
Giles Chichester MEP stood down as a the Tory leader in Europe after it emerged he had paid £400,000 for office services to a company of which he was a director. Mr Chichester was put in charge of ensuring integrity in Tory MEP expenses after it was disclosed that the MP Derek Conway had paid his son more than £40,000 as a Commons researcher while he was a student at Newcastle University. In his judgement of this case, the Secretary General of the European Parliamen said:
I can inform you that I have come to the conclusion that although your contract with that company constituted a potential case of conflict of interest, you have had no personal financial benefit from that contract, and that no conflict of interest has ever materialised.He is once again a candidate on the SW MEP list even though he admitted to breaking European Parliament rules.
No one is suggesting that ordinary travel or office expenses are wrong, but with the climate of corruption the time for a cleanup of politics is now. Needless to say; the Green MEPs have never employed family members.
British MEPs that employ family members include:
Sir Robert Atkins C
Philip Bushill-Matthews C
Tarquin Fin-tim-lin-bin-whin-bim-lim-bus-stop-F'tang-F'tang-Olé-Biscuitbarrel (just kidding about this one)
Michael Cashman Labour
Richard Corbett Lab
Stephen Hughes Lab
Baroness Ludford Lib Dem
Diana Wallis Lib Dem
Graham Watson Lib Dem
Robert Kilroy-Silk Ind yet another ex UKIP MEP