After their characteristically dishonest and economically illiterate claims telling why Marmite should not cost any more in the shops despite the slump in Sterling following the EU referendum result, one might have thought that the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog might stop and think before trying to pass off another post full of porkies. But that thought would have been misplaced.
Because back have come the Fawkes folks with another pack of lies about the EU, creatively titled “EU Accounts Not Signed Off Since 1994”, going on to tell “The EU’s auditors have failed to sign off Brussels accounts for the 22nd year in a row, claiming that they are ‘materially affected by error’”. 22 years in a row, eh? That’s quite a claim. It also happens - by no coincidence at all - to be a totally untrue one.
The Fawkes blog post, which is also emblazoned with the assertion “EU MIS-SPENDING”, does not contain any citation, which is rare for The Great Guido. But readers are told that “The accountants had an ‘adverse opinion’ of the legality and regularity of EU payments, a term which is used only in serious cases of error”. So what is the real story? Is there not even a grain of truth in the Fawkes flannel?
Well, sadly not: as MEP Richard Corbett reminds us, “There is a persistent myth (reliably recycled every year by UK newspapers) that the European Court of Auditors has refused to sign off the EU’s accounts, but this is false … In the most recent audit year (2013), the Court gave a clean bill of health to the accounts for the seventh time in a row. This means every euro spent from the EU budget was duly recorded in the books and correctly accounted for. In the auditors’ own words, they ‘signed off’ the accounts”.
Corbett also explains “There is a separate question about the proportion of revenue or spending that is affected by what auditors call ‘material error’. Material error arises from problems like a missing supporting document or the incorrect application of procurement rules (these were the two main causes of material error noted by the auditors). Material error is an accounting term and it does not mean fraud or waste”.
That demonstrates that the Fawkes rabble, who have already this week demonstrated their economic illiteracy, do not understand the terminology being used - yet they regularly and shamelessly appeal to authority. The BBC backs up Corbett’s view: “The Court of Auditors has signed the EU accounts every year since 2007, while pointing out that EU countries, once they receive the EU funds, misuse about 4.4% of the total budget”.
Full Fact has also come to this conclusion, testing the claim “The EU’s accounts haven’t been signed off for years” and finding “Auditors say the accounts are accurate and have been since 2007. But they record significant errors in how money is paid, and this has been the case since 1995”. Some member states do not work to the same audit standards as the folks in Brussels. But that does not excuse the Fawkes mob’s lies.
Once again, The Great Guido’s pants are well alight. Another fine mess.