Something remarkable happened this week and it seems to have escaped the notice of, well, everyone.
Not so surprising, perhaps, in view of the ever-increasing scandal and furore of UKIP leader and parliamentary candidate Paul Nuttall’s admission of false claims about the Hillsborough disaster – and his increasingly desperate (and desperately failing) attempts to offload the blame.
In this news that everyone missed, Nigel Farage effectively alleged that his successor as UKIP leader is fraudulently using EU funds – and, functionally speaking, Paul Nuttall highlighted the same allegations.
The SKWAWKBOX broke a world exclusive last New Year’s Eve, revealing that UKIP are under investigation by the European OLAF anti-fraud unit for an incredible €20 million in alleged fraud (and for alleged involvement in child pornography).
At that time, this blog was accused of creating ‘fake news’ – but a little over a month later, the mainstream media in the UK and overseas also ‘revealed’ the same news and it is now recognised as fact.
That investigation centres on alleged claims by UKIP MEPs for staff and office costs that are not permitted under EU rules and concluded last week. The formal report is not yet available, but behaviour at UKIP offices suggests that it will be grim reading for the party and its MEPs.
The rules and law
The Representation of the People Act 1983 and EU legislation on what can legitimately be claimed by MEPs both state unequivocally that taxpayers’ money must not be used for party-political purposes.
EU regulations categorise MEPs’ assistant as civil servants and their duties as:
their specific task of supporting members [MEPs] in carrying out their duties
MEPs’ assistants can, therefore, only work in the European Parliament or, if they work in an MEP’s constituency, they can only work on anything specifically related to the MEP’s work as an MEP. Nothing else is legitimate.
OLAF is investigating allegations that UKIP is claiming EU funds for staff who are working on UK political campaigns and other political activities that do not come close to meeting that criterion – which would also breach the Representation of the People Act.
The Farage ‘allegation’
Earlier this week, the Huffington Post revealed that Nigel Farage has refused to campaign any further for Nuttall in the Stoke Central by-election because Mr Nuttall has appointed Lisa ‘Scruffy’ Duffy as his campaign manager:
Ms Duffy features prominently in the OLAF investigation because of claims that she is involved in political work for UKIP when she is paid by the EU as a full-time assistant – i.e. EU civil servant – to UKIP MEP Patrick O’Flynn:
By his refusal to campaign for Mr Nuttall because Ms Duffy is Nuttall’s campaign manager in a UK parliamentary by-election, Mr Farage is confirming that Ms Duffy is involved in UKIP’s UK political activities – and effectively stating that Mr Nuttall is in breach of the law by using her as such.
And no, it cannot be claimed that these are ‘spare time’ activities. Running a by-election campaign is a full-time job in the best of circumstances – and Nuttall’s campaign has not run anything like smoothly since it began.
Paul Nuttall’s desperation at the mess his own lies have landed him in has led him to a reckless act. In an attempt to win respite from unrelenting pressure over his false Hillsborough claims, he allowed Lynda Roughley to take the blame for the false ‘lost close friends at Hillsborough’ claim – a futile move, as the lie was exposed within hours.
And a reckless one.
Because by putting Ms Roughley in the spotlight, Paul Nuttall drew attention to her activities for him.
Lynda Roughley – styled by UKIP as Nuttall’s ‘press officer’ (although the actual press officer is Oliver Adam) – is employed by Mr Nuttall, at the EU’s cost, as an MEP’s assistant:
This means that she is prohibited from involvement in his or UKIP’s party political activities.
But Ms Roughley appears to have been involved in Mr Nuttall’s by-election campaign and as Mr Nuttall has now claimed or confessed, she is involved at least in the maintenance and updating of his website.
And a single party-political article on that website that is not directly related to Paul Nuttall’s MEP activities means she and Nuttall have probably broken EU law.
That website is suddenly offline ‘for routine maintenance’. But fortunately, sites like WaybackMachine store exact copies of various websites, including Mr Nuttall’s – and they show that his supposed MEP’s website has regularly published non-EU related, party-political content going at least as far back as the time of the 2011 false claims for which Mr Nuttall has allowed Ms Roughley to take the fall.
and any number of links you’ll find in WaybackMachine’s master list here.
The OLAF investigation is hugely wide-ranging and implicates many UKIP MEPs and personnel. But in this remarkable passage over the last few days, through Nigel Farage’s short-sighted petulance and Paul Nuttall’s Hillsborough-induced recklessness, both men appeared to confirm non-qualifying activities by two UKIP personnel on Nuttall’s behalf who are under investigation by OLAF for exactly such activities.
And, consequently, that Paul Nuttall may unintentionally ave held his hands up and said,
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