As Zelo Street regulars will recall, following the decision of UKIP leader Paul Nuttall to contest the Stoke-on-Trent Central by-election on behalf of his party, I concluded that it would be no bad thing if Channel 4 News man Michael Crick were to take an interest in the contest, especially given the European Parliament’s fraud team are looking at Nuttall’s expenses. Someone needed to get in the Bad Bootle Meff’s face.
And so it came to pass that Crick availed himself of one of the two fast trains an hour which ply between London’s Euston terminus and Stoke, and began to rummage around in the minutiae of the Nuttall campaign. The EP expenses - some of which Nuttall may have to pay back - were not his first port of call. Instead, Crick homed in on the UKIP leader’s declaration of candidacy. It was then that the fun started.
Nuttall had put an address in the constituency on his nomination papers. Crick went to check it out. There was no-one there. “Inside the empty Stoke house which Paul Nuttall claimed is his ‘home’, and which will appear on ballot papers as such” he Tweeted, only later in the afternoon confirming “UKIP spokesman says Paul Nuttall has NOW moved into empty Stoke home Nuttall claimed on nom forms as ‘home address’”.
As the Guardian reported, “Nomination papers submitted by the Ukip leader contesting the Stoke Central byelection declared he was living in a house in the city that he had not yet moved into at the time they were filed … Paul Nuttall’s papers for the 23 February byelection, nominations for which closed on Tuesday, gave his home address as an end-of-terrace house near the city centre. However, when Channel 4 News’s Michael Crick went to the house on Wednesday morning, it appeared empty”.
The report went on to tell “Peter Stanyon, deputy chief executive of the Association of Electoral Administrators, said the address had to be the home address at the moment of nomination … ‘The general provision will clearly be that it needs to be a factual statement made at the point the nomination was being submitted,’ he said”.
At the moment of nomination, Nuttall was not just not living at the house on Stoke’s Oxford Street, he had not set foot in the place. We know this because he admitted it when confronted by Crick. There he is, live on camera, confirming that he had never been to the address that is on his nomination form as his home. He also confirmed that his actual home is on Merseyside. Paul Nuttall has admitted an act of electoral fraud.
And all of that is before Crick gets going on Nuttall’s EP expenses, especially three of the assistants for whom he’s been claiming allowances (seven other UKIP MEPs, including Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, are also under investigation). Meanwhile, as the Channel 4 News man has also told, “Stoke returning officer told party agents tonight that a voter has already complained about Nuttall nomination paper. Handled after election”.
So even if the Bad Bootle Meff wins the contest, he may face disqualification for fiddling his nomination papers. What is it about UKIP and fraud? They go so well together.