Neil Hamilton questioned by Ukip over expenses allegedly claimed for wife’s flat
A letter from Ukip Finance committee has been sent to the former MP asking him to explain “each and ever mileage claim” he has made and “an explanation of each stat that has been charged for your wife’s flat”.
It came as the former Conservative MP who left his career in pantomine to become deputy chairman of Ukip, prepared to appear at a hustings in Basildon South where he will stand as the Ukip candidate in May.
Mr Hamilton had thrown his hat in the ring for the seat after Kerry Smith was deselected – only to then be reinstated, prompting the former MP to use his hustings speech to endorse the eventual winner.
The letter, which was published in full by Channel Four news, was sent today and reflects concerns in the leadership ranks of Ukip’s leadership about Mr Hamilton’s role in the party.
Mr Hamilton said the letter was simply a “dirty trick” intended to destablise the hustings and said he had already provided answers to some of the concerns.
The effort to return to Parliament is a personal battle for Mr Hamilton who was drummed out of the House of Commons in 1997 after 14 years as an MP when he lost the safe Tory Tatton seat after the cash for questions scandal.
Mr Hamilton was left with a reported £2million legal bill after he failed to overturn a libel defeat against Mohamed Fayed which had claimed Mr Hamilton accepted money to table Parliamentary Questions.
Mr Hamilton and his wife Christine always denied wrong doing. In her 2005 autobiography “For Better for Worse” Mrs Hamilton disclosed that the Inland Revenue had examined Mr Hamilton’s accounts after the Fayed case and concluded “that Fayed had not paid Neil cash for questions”.
Mr Hamilton joined Ukip in 2002.
That letter in full:
Dear Neil Hamilton,
To assist you in focusing your mind on Ukip’s simple and not unreasonable request that you explain your expenses claims. Would you please provide details of the following to the F&RC Committee;
1. In the case of each and every mileage claim, detail where you went, who you saw and why you had to make this trip.
2. Provide the invoice for each disbursement that you say you have incurred, detailing why this disbursement was incurred, and in the case of a lunch for example, whom you were having lunch with and for what purpose.
3. Provide an explanation of each stay that has been charged for your wife’s flat detailing why it was more convenient for you to stay there, rather than at your house.
4. State who agreed that you were able to charge for staying in your wife’s flat post the European elections.
The letter also provides confirmation that Mr Hamilton was deposed from his paid job as Ukip campaign manager for the European elections:
5. Prior to the European elections, please confirm who agreed that you would be able to charge for your stay in your wife’s flat , and obviously at the same time set out why, and where you were that required that you utilise this flat on a specific day.
– More particularly what interested the committee is why, after you were removed from the job that you were originally allocated prior to the European elections, you continued to use this flat as you were no longer performing that role.
6. To assist you, [Redacted] has specifically told us that he did not agree for you to charge VAT on the salary you received prior to the European Election. We have seen the email trail and would like an explanation as to why you did not go back to those who agreed this salary and why you did not make it known that you intended to charge VAT on your salary by charging Ukip through a company for your services as this incurred Ukip in extra costs. It is accepted that Ukip would have had to pay employer’s NI which is substantially less than VAT.
– What is wrong here, is that you failed to go back to the management committee to clear the arrangement knowing that Ukip was at all times during this campaign short of money.
7. To further assist you, in respect of expenses claimed with your new role, (Deputy Chairman Regions) [Redacted] has specifically told us that you could claim expenses for any tasks that he requested you to carry out. Accordingly can you please provide, for each item of work, confirmation that this was specifically done at [Redacted]‘s behest.
We note that you have withdrawn your claim for attendance and stay at the Doncaster Conference as you now say that it was wrongly put in due to a “fit of pique” – whatever that means.
We further note that you are no longer proceeding with this claim at all. We find this somewhat surprising particularly as, if the expenses can be substantiated, as set out above, there no reason for Ukip not to pay it or for you to withdraw the claim!
We need to place on record that we knew nothing of any expense claims you had put into Ukip until [Redacted] brought the expense claim that you have now withdrawn to my attention because [Redacted] had been asked on a couple of occasions by your wife to pay this invoice and [Redacted] felt that we ought to see it to confirm that payment was in order. In addition, prior to this, the NEC had asked for greater information to be provided to them on Ukip’s finances and expenses and no doubt this is what prompted [Redacted] to mention this to us as he was concerned by it.
We hope the above will assist you in providing the information that is required to substantiate your claims. You have already had over a month to assemble this information and the F& RC committee should be obliged to receive this information by close of business Friday 19th December, particularly, as [Redacted] has pointed out to us, Ukip’s year end is 31stDecember.
Please do bear in mind that we receive at Lexdrum House handwritten letters from pensioners enclosing a £5 or a £10 note which they have managed to save so as to send it to Ukip and hence we need to make sure that all expenses are fully explainable.