Tuesday, October 25

Wise's 'indescretion' leads to UKIP crisis

At last years Euro elections it was UKIP who undoubtedly caught everyone by surprise, winning 12 seats in the European Parliament. However it wasn't long before allegations of sleaze took hold, and the party began to descend into anarchy. Within months UKIP had lost Ashley Mote MEP when it was learned that he had failed to declare an impending court case for benefit fraud, and then there was the infamous public fall out with Robert Kilroy-Silk.

Now, if the story in last weeks Sunday Telegraph proves to be true, it seems UKIP is well on its way to losing a third MEP in just over a year.

Tom Wise MEP for Eastern England appears to have been contradicting his own surname, having claimed £36,000 from the EU parliament to pay his researcher, Lindsay Jenkins, and then pocketing all but the £6,000 that he actually paid her.

Wise was once an assistant to Geoffrey Titford MEP and number two in the Eastern Region behind him. Titford recently took over the chairmanship of the Party after the resignation of Petrina Holdsworth.

It now looks as if Holdsworth's resignation was not entirely unrelated to this weeks disclosure. It appears that Wise's "indiscretion" was known to senior members of the Party who appeared to do nothing. Holdsworth quit after last month citing Party Leader Roger Knapman's inability to stand up to his colleagues.

Sources indicate that Holdsworth's demand for "greater transparency," which sparked the row with UKIP deputy leader Mike Nattrass, related directly to this issue, as rumours had spread of a gap between MEP's incomes and their actual declared spending. The former chairman's resignation has now been followed by a senior member of the Party’s NEC and more are expected to follow.

Meanwhile, Wise remains a UKIP MEP, but surely not for much longer. The third UKIP MEP in less than a year to bite the bullet now seems likely. Along with the recent loss of several National Executive Committee members, is the end now in sight for UKIP?

Source: The Sunday Telegraph, 23 October 2005

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