NIGEL FARAGE has denied that UKIP misspent €500,000 of EU funding on trying to win the Brexit vote and electing MPs.
An external audit has found that the right-wing party broke spending rules by diverting taxpayers’ cash to its polling ahead of the EU referendum and in key target constituencies for the 2015 general election, including the Thanet South seat that Farage unsuccessfully ran for.
“We’ve been expecting this for years. We are in an environment where rules are willfully interpreted as suits,” Farage said.
“I’ve understood absolutely the rules. This is pure victimisation. I am the most investigated MEP in history. Look at what the pro-EU groups were spending.”
Rules state that EU funding can only be spent on a party’s activities at a European level, not on campaigns on a domestic level.
If the audit is confirmed, the party – currently cash strapped after moving out of its London headquarters – will have to repay €170,000 and will be barred from collecting any further funds from Brussels.
The audit discovered that the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) – a European political grouping led by UKIP – financed polling in the UK between February and December in 2015.
The lion’s share of the polling was found to be ‘conducted in the interest of UKIP’, with €450,000 of the €500,000 being used by the party.
The audit claims the money was used to fund polling in Great Grimsby and Thurrock, Rochester and Strood and Cardiff South and Penarth, which were all UKIP target seats at the last general election in the UK.
After the election, UKIP used the funds to conduct several EU referendum attitude polls across Britain.
The party is reportedly furious the audit was leaked before it had a chance to see it, suggesting it was leaked by the European Parliament itself.
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