UKIP leader Paul Nuttall is, it was announced today, set to stand as as his party’s candidate in the Stoke Central parliamentary by-election triggered by the resignation of (technically) Labour MP Tristram Hunt. The decision comes after jibes of cowardice on social media when it looked like he may opt not to contest the seat:
Paul Nuttall gets the airtime of a Westminster politician but he doesn't even have the guts to stand in the Stoke by-election. Coward
— Will Black (@WillBlackWriter) January 17, 2017
Mr Nuttall has been a UKIP MEP (Member of the European Parliament) for some years and placed 736th of 756 MEPs for attendance according to Wikipedia, which fits with the comments this author has received from UKIP insiders.
Last month, he faced a grilling from the BBC’s Andrew Marr about false claims to have a PHD and to have played professional football for Tranmere Rovers, which he blamed on over-enthusiastic interns, and this week the SKWAWKBOX raised questions about his claims to have been present, as a 12yo boy, at the Hillsborough disaster in which 96 Liverpool fans were killed.
Many consider Paul Nuttall to be a dangerous and unscrupulous fantasist. But he is also under investigation, along with a range of UKIP officials, by the EU’s ‘OLAF‘ anti-fraud unit in relation to an alleged €20 million fraud in which Nuttall is named for allegedly claiming large amounts of EU funds for the rent and costs of his MEP’s office. The OLAF case reference for the investigation is OF/2016/0836/01.
The full allegation document is below in PDF format, but the section relating to Nuttall’s office costs states:
Paul Nuttall’s website provides this address for his office:
UKIP North West
PO Box 2034
Here is L69 2DG on Google Maps:
Lots of red Royal Mail vans. And on Google Street view:
This author has visited the building in question and found no indication of a UKIP office. It appears to be simply a rented postbox for correspondence purposes – which would cost a few pounds to rent but nothing like the expense of an office.
That said, it’s not uncommon for an organisation to have a postbox address separate to its actual office location. So could Paul Nuttall’s physical office be elsewhere?
If so, it’s extremely well-hidden. There is a mention of an office in Nuttall’s home town of Bootle – but this dates back to 2010 and appears to have been a very short-term rental for Nuttall’s attempt to win the Bootle parliamentary seat in that year, which is fairly common practice for candidates – put up a few signs and posters in a vacant shop and use it as a base for the campaign, although that is not how Nuttall described it at the time on his website:
The Google Streetview of the same building, which dates to Jun 2014, shows simply an empty shop again:
.So it’s clear that it was no kind of permanent MEP’s office for Nuttall.
So far, this blog has been unable to turn up any physical, UK location for an MEP’s office belonging to/rented by Paul Nuttall – and certainly the allegations currently being investigated by OLAF state that the Sefton Street PO Box is the official office address being used and claimed for by him.
But that is not the full extent of the allegations OLAF is looking at. The dossier also alleges that:
- Nuttall is claiming for 3 staff for his office who, in fact, have never worked there (there is no ‘there’) or in any sense for his ‘constituency office’ – and at least one is based hundreds of miles away in South Thanet
- these 3 staff do not do any work for Nuttall as an MEP but are involved purely with UKIP party matters and campaigning
- he is claiming costs for a list of assistants – all but one of whom is completely fictitious
- Nuttall invents his own invoices and rubber-stamps them to support the ‘expenses’
The OLAF case findings are scheduled to be published next month, at which point we will have a formal verdict on these matters.
Until then, they remain allegations – but allegations which ought to be of intense interest to voters in Stoke Central and indeed across the country, especially in light of the admittedly false claims already associated with him and the other apparent inconsistencies in his ‘CV’.
Full OLAF allegations PDF: ukip-eu-allegations
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