Sunday, October 23

Wise lies land Tom in hot water

UKIP MEP for the Eastern Region, Tom Wise, is this week at the centre of yet another UKIP controversy as the European Parliament gathers for its monthly meeting in Strasbourg.

An investigation by the Sunday Telegraph has revealed that Wise is claiming £36,000 a year of public money for a researcher he is paying just £6,000.

The parliament has paid Mr Wise the full £36,000 in the belief that it is being passed on to Ms Jenkins, a freelance author and researcher. Parliament rules state that the Parliament will pay the salaries of MEPs' assistants only when the amount being claimed matches the sum paid out.

However, it appears that Jenkins was unaware that, the MEP had told the European parliament that her salary was six times higher than it actually was.

Wise has since admitted that the extra money is in his bank account. He claimed that he had not intended to spend it and that he was merely "looking after it" for Ms Jenkins.

In the past UKIP have always been the first to criticise the so called 'EU gravy train.' Just recently Wise who picks up an annual salary of £59,095 plus a range of expensive perks, denounced the EU for being "a hideous waste of your money".

In a press release he said: "UKIP are the only party who think that the whole concept [of the EU] is built on a succession of lies. The proponents of the 'project' [the EU] will not tell you where it is going, if indeed they know. They will not tell you what it will cost as they have no idea. Yet you - and I - have to pay for it." - Famous last words if ever there were.

Mr Wise, first became financially connected to Ms Jenkins last autumn when they agreed a deal in which she would be paid £500 a month to work as a statistical researcher for him.

He gave her European parliament forms to sign to make her an official assistant but they did not contain the specified amount of her salary. When he applied to the parliament's payments office to register her he told them he was paying her an annual salary of £36,000.

Wise said "I have a contract between Lindsay Jenkins and the European parliament. I am not going to comment on the amount she has had." He later admitted that he was claiming £36,000 "in her name" from the payments office but that her actual payments added up to just £6,000 plus a small amount for extra work done.

When pushed on the subject as to why there is a discrepancy between the amount he pays his assistant and the amount of tax payers money he is claiming, Wise could only reply "I don't fancy answering."

A friend of 59-year-old Ms Jenkins said: "The agreement was always that she would be paid £500 a month as a retainer and for that she would work a certain number of hours.

"The sum of £36,000, or anything like it, was never mentioned to her. It was only by accident that she found out there was a lot of extra money being claimed in her name."

This episode is the latest in a series of financial misdemeanours by UKIP, the so called "straight talking Party." Last month UKIPwatch revealed that three UKIP MEPs are also refusing to play straight when it comes to their expenses. MEPs Godfrey Bloom, Roger Knapman and John Whittaker have so far failed to publicly declare their financial interests, in accordance with Parliament rules.

Source: The Sunday Telegraph, 23 Oct 2005

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