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Tuesday, 23 February 2016

UKIP’s Welsh Meltdown

While much of the party’s energy is focused on the upcoming referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage and his fellow saloon bar propper-uppers at UKIP also have local Government elections to fight, and the latter includes elections to the Welsh Assembly Government. Here, the Kippers face controversy over one potential candidate, former Tory MP Mostyn Neil Hamilton.
Hamilton claims to be “a proud Welshman”, and he did indeed grow up in the area around Carmarthen, before taking his first degree at Aberystwyth. But his Parliamentary career was as MP for Tatton, the constituency centred on the Cheshire town of Knutsford. He and wife Christine lived for many years at Nether Alderley, also in Cheshire, before moving to Wiltshire. His recent connection to Wales is therefore tenuous.

So the appearance of an anonymous leaflet passing severely adverse comment on Hamilton should not surprise anyone. Nor should any reference to his downfall at the 1997 General Election at the hands of independent candidate Martin Bell, in the wake of Hamilton’s collapsed libel action against the Guardian, over the claim of former Harrods boss Mohamed “you can call me Al” Fayed that Hamilton took “cash for questions”.

No-one should be surprised if UKIP members in Wales are reminded of the Guardian’s main headline the day after Hamilton’s legal capitulation: “A liar and a cheat”. Nor would it be any surprise to see his failed libel action against Fayed revisited, with the late George Carman QC describing Hamilton as “On the make, and on the take”. The cash for those questions was, according to Fayed, paid in used notes and in brown envelopes.

Hamilton has told of “This libellous leaflet recycled a Guardian newspaper cutting from 1996, falsely claiming I took large sums of money as an MP to ask parliamentary questions … The Inland Revenue dismissed these allegations as lies after their top forensic accountants (the Special Compliance Office) completed an exhaustive two-year investigation of all Christine's and my financial affairs during ten tax years, 1987-97”.

But then, if money was paid in used notes and in brown envelopes, there would be nothing for the tax authorities to find. Indeed, Gordon Downey’s inquiry into the “cash for questions” affair found that the evidence Hamilton took cash from Fayed for asking questions “compelling”. One should also note that the Guardian article published after Hamilton’s libel action collapsed is still available online - and unaltered.

Neil Hamilton also misled Michael Heseltine over payments from lobbyist Ian Greer. He lobbied for the US tobacco industry. He joined the cause of the Apartheid régime in South Africa. He routinely failed to register payments and hospitality, including stays at the Hôtel Ritz in Paris. He stood accused of taking a £10,000 payment from Mobil Oil to table an amendment to the 1989 Finance Bill, while a member of a Commons select committee.

Neil Hamilton can protest all he likes at the actions of those in UKIP who are unhappy about his potential candidacy. But his record and reputation is there for all to see, as is his over-zealous recourse to libel actions, which left him with a £3 million bill and facing bankruptcy. He is a thoroughly unsavoury character and anyone in UKIP who seeks to bring this to a wider audience is to be commended.


rob said...

He gets around does this boyo!

He also had to drop out of the running for prospective candidate for the South Basildon and East Thurrock constituency in December 2014 according to The Guardian due to a letter from the party’s finance and resources committee challenging some of his expenses claims.

From the same article "Senior figures in Ukip had previously worked hard to successfully prevent the former Conservative MP becoming a candidate in Boston and Skegness, and managed to prevent him from becoming an MEP."

Have ambition to become MP will travel anywhere in the UK?

One wonders who is driving force here, NH or his wife Christine?

Anonymous said...

Three short sentences in the Guardian article sum up the arrogance and hubris of Mostyn Neil Hamilton perfectly:

"Another MP, Tim Smith, resigned his post as a Northern Ireland minister after he was accused in the same article of taking undeclared cash. He immediately admitted the Guardian story was true. Mr Hamilton, MP for Tatton, had instead tried to tough it out before resigning under pressure from Mr Major."

Isn't it time Mostyn asked Google to forget him?

Anonymous said...

From memory: Neil Hamilton is an anagram of 'ah ten million'. Or, if you prefer 'then a million'.

I couldnae resist.

Arnold said...

"Isn't it time Mostyn asked Google to forget him?"
Hush! He might read this blog.

Anonymous said...

Neil Hamilton Chronology - How the scandal unfolded https://t.co/YqGTUMBjj6

Miles King said...

A while back I wrote about Hamilton, UKIP and the Monday Club.


some people just don't change....