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Nigel Farage hit with £35,000 fine for 'misspending EU funds'

Mirror logo Mirror 13/01/2018 Andrew Gregory
Nigel Farage wearing a suit and tie: Credits: AFP © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Nigel Farage has been fined £35,000 after allegedly misspending EU funds.

The ex-UKIP leader was probed by Brussels chiefs over claims his office assistant had not been working on EU matters.

Half of his salary will be docked from this month onwards to recoup the taxpayers' cash the European Parliament is owed.

Mr Farage recently moaned about being “53, separated and skint”.

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This is despite being entitled to the £90,000-a-year MEPs’ salary and living in a £4million townhouse.

He is also entitled to claim thousands more in expenses for staff and travel costs, and will also be entitled to claim an EU pension, worth £73,000 a year.

The revelation emerged just 24 hours after he appeared to suggest he was in favour of a second referendum over Brexit.

Last night (FRI) a spokesman for the European Freedom and Direct Democracy group, the European Parliament group which Mr Farage leads, slammed the move.

a man wearing a suit and tie: Credits: AFP © Provided by Trinity Mirror Plc Credits: AFP

Speaking to the Mirror from Brussels, the spokesman said: "There is a vindictive campaign by the European Parliament of selective persecution of Eurosceptic MEPs, parties and groups.

"This allegation is all part of their politically motivated assault."

European Parliament investigators suspended the contract of Christopher Adams last year. He was Mr Farage's assistant in Brussels.

It is understood they acted after becoming convinced that he was not working for Mr Farage on European parliamentary matters.

Mr Adams, a former UKIP Parliamentary candidate, was also the national nominating officer for UKIP.

Under EU rules, full-time assistants to MEPs are not allowed to do paid work for national parties, while part-time assistants must have their second jobs vetted by the European Parliament watchdog to prevent conflicts of interest.

Following the revelation, Mr Farage claimed that Brussels chiefs were “just being vindictive” to him because of his role in the Brexit vote.

He confirmed that his pay was being withheld but "absolutely rejected" any suggestion of wrongdoing.

He added: "It is guilty until proven innocent. They can do whatever they like. Since Brexit they are just being vindictive."

Mr Farage described the situation as "very difficult" and said the punishment was "arbitrary".

He added: "I have been (in the European parliament) 20 years. I absolutely reject what they say.

"But it is difficult to know what I can do about it."

A European Parliament spokeswoman declined to comment on the case

But she said that in cases where an MEP “cannot provide any justification or proof” that their funded assistants are doing work directly related to the European mandate of the MEP, “then the administration may recover the money by withholding part of the MEP’s salary”.

However, a European Parliament source confirmed: “Since 1 January [2018] the European parliament has withheld 50% in order to recoup the €40,000 due in salary that was paid to Christopher Adams and which cannot be proved by Farage."

Docking Farage’s pre-tax MEP salary of €8,484 a month would mean he would have repaid what the cash by October 2018.

Mr Farage has been an MEP for South East England since 1999. 

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