Sunday, December 5

EU probes Farage over £450 gifts



Nigel Farage is facing an investigation by the EU after allegedly failing to declare a £450,000 payment from Leave.EU founder Arron Banks.

Earlier this week it was claimed the Brexit Party leader was bought a chauffeur-driven car, and had his rent and bills on a £4.4m Chelsea home paid for by Mr Banks.

Mr Banks also allegedly paid for Farage’s lavish tours of the US, during which he met with right wing political figures.

But according to the Independent, none of the gifts were declared on Farage’s register of interests – a record designed to stop MEPs keeping their conflicts of interests secret.

One of the European parliament’s quaestors, politicians responsible for financial and administrative matters, has now reportedly written a letter to the Parliament’s presidency asking them to investigate these apparent contraventions as a matter of urgency.

Catherine Bearder, the quaestor who is also a Liberal Democrat MEP, said in the letter to Antonio Tajani, president of the European parliament that she believed Farage had broken the rules.

I can see no reference to any of the reported travel or accommodation subsidies related to Mr Farage’s US tour on any of his declarations of financial interests on the parliament’s website.

She also noted that Mr Banks was currently under investigation by the National Crime Agency over the source of his funding for the Brexit campaign.

European Parliament rules mean Farage could be fined up to around €10,000 (£8,800) if he is found to have breached the rules.

He could also be suspended from ‘all or some of the activities of parliament for a period of between two and 30 days though his right to vote cannot be removed.

It comes as he and his newly-founded Brexit Party area just days away from contesting the European elections.

According to last week’s Channel 4 investigation Rock Services Ltd, a company owned by Mr Banks, flew Mr Farage business class to Cleveland, Ohio to attend the Republican National Convention.

Mr Banks, through Southern Rock, is also said to have paid American lobbying firm Goddard Gunster £64,064 for a ‘Nigel Farage Brexit Policy Luncheon’.

Mr Banks paid American strategist Gerry Gunster, through his company Goddard Gunster, to organise the event.

This included paying Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson £11,305.41 to interview Mr Farage at the event, the investigation reports.

At Donald Trump’s inauguration, emails seen by Channel 4 News suggest Mr Banks paid more than £15,000 to fly Nigel Farage to and from Washington, approximately £1000 on a room at the plush Mayflower Hotel.

The investigation also cites invoices that reportedly show Goddard Gunster billed £108,684 for a lavish party in Farage’s honour at the Hay-Adams Hotel.

Mr Farage denies any wrongdoing.

He told Channel 4 News ‘no comment’ on their investigation, but later told the BBC: ‘Whatever happened after the referendum – I was leaving politics, it happened mostly in America, it had nothing to do with politics, nothing to do with the Brexit Party, it was purely on a personal basis.