Politics watchers who have their gazes trained on purely domestic matters may have missed yesterday’s news from mainland Europe, especially as it concerned a politician in France. But the investigation of Marine le Pen of the far-right Front National (FN) could soon engulf several well-known faces from UK politics.
Squeaky criminal charges finger up the bum time
As the BBC has reported, “Marine Le Pen has been placed under formal investigation over an alleged European parliament funding scandal … The allegations were passed to French investigators who have opened a case … The parliament suspects some €5m (£4m; $5.4m) went to assistants of Ms Le Pen's National Front (FN) who were not working for MEPs but were actually engaged in FN party work in France”.
The Guardian has explained “The case was triggered by a complaint from the European parliament, which accused the Front National of defrauding it on a large scale. An investigation by a European parliament watchdog claimed that between 2011 and 2012 Le Pen had illicitly paid party staff for Front National work using money that should only be used for MEPs to pay assistants for legislative tasks”.
Getting those paid from EU funds to do work that solely benefits a political party’s domestic agenda is something with which Zelo Street regulars may be familiar: during their unsuccessful by-election campaign in Stoke-on-Trent Central, UKIP called on the services of Lisa Duffy to manage their efforts. Ms Duffy is employed by MEP Patrick “Lunchtime” O’Flynn as an assistant at the European Parliament.
UKIP could be heading the same way as the French FN, and on several counts. Not only are Ms Duffy and O’Flynn in potential trouble over the Stoke campaign, this could also ensnare former head Kipper Paul Nuttall, aka the “Bad Bootle Meff”. That would be a case of double trouble for Nuttall, who is already under investigation over his MEP expense claims, particularly those for an office which may not exist.
And guess who else may be in the frame on expenses? The Guardian spells it out: “Financial controllers are looking into eight of Ukip’s 20 MEPs, who are suspected of having broken rules that ban full-time EU-funded parliamentary assistants from working for the national party … It is understood that Farage and his fellow Ukip MEP Raymond Finch will be asked to repay around £84,000 paid to their joint assistant, Christopher Adams”.
Yes, Nigel “Thirsty” Farage, former UKIP Oberscheissenführer, and that is after “The Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe, a Ukip-controlled pan-European party, was found to have spent EU funds on Nigel Farage’s failed attempt to win a seat in Westminster, flouting the ban on using European money for national campaigns”. The amount mis-spent was in excess of €500,000. Ms le Pen’s alleged mis-spending was just €339,000.
Farage, as Zelo Street has previously told, has been good at following the money. Now his pursuit may be about to come back to bite him. What a deserving chap.