UKIPwatcher was intrigued to receive some information from a fellow conspirator to the effect that the Parliament's Secretary General Harald Römer has apparently launched an investigation into the funding of at least 5 UKIP/EU Democrat staff members. An investigation has also been launched into the alleged plans to pay veteran eurosceptic campaigner Jens Peter Bonde to subsidise his future work for the EU Democrats.
This issue has cropped up a few times before in a similar vein. One of the open secrets in the European Parliament is that UKIP uses money from the IND-DEM group to pay its party staff. Mike Nattrass's assistant Denis Brookes took his former boss to an employment tribunal last year alleging that he was being paid using IND-DEM money when he was actually a UKIP regional organiser, although the case was eventually thrown out.
UKIP MEP deadweight Derek Clark has also weighed in. In a letter to that great bastion of Europhilia the Sunday Telegraph, Deadweight said:
My employment of two staff at our party head office in Devon is perfectly legitimate.
Any assistant of an MEP is required to assist the MEP with all aspects of his or her duties, including political activities as an MEP, so as to enhance the work of the MEP. By helping to promote the party and by raising public awareness of our aims, those working in our head office enhance the role of all our MEPs wherever they are, including me.
That is what I said live on the BBC’s political hour last Sunday. I change not one word of that but perhaps I had better quote a long standing EU civil servant.
I refer to The Secretary General of our political group in the European Parliament, Herman Verheirstraeten, who says:-
“The internal rules of the parliaments don’t tell us anything about what is the exact task of a parliamentary assistant. The policy of the parliament is clear; do everything, inform people, make sure they come out to vote, make sure the political parties, the national parliaments are aware of what is happening in Europe. That is their real political duty. This is why I am convinced that the parliament would rather applaud the fact you have people working in your national state under your instructions and promote your work, exchange ideas with the party, coordinate the work of the other UKIP MEPs and inform the members as well as the UK public not just the East Midlands. It should be added to this particular case, that UKIP is a party that has his core interest in what is happening in Europe, unlike the others who have other core business. That is one more reason to welcome the fact that you do what should be done, and that is invest in contact with the party and the public”.
I trust that you can accept the word of such an experienced and unbiased EU official as Herman Verheirstraeten. I find it rather sad that a paper with the reputation of the Sunday Telegraph should allow itself to publish misleading articles based upon ill informed comment.
(It's fascinating that Clark describes the General Secretary of the IND-DEM group (headed by UKIP who seek to destroy the EU) as an "unbiased EU official" - he's clearly been taking spinning advice from UKIP press maestro - but we'll leave this for another time.)
Anyway, watch this space because something is clearly afoot. It may be that another UKIP assistance allowance scandal is about to blow.