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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Fraud allegations blight UKIP's Welsh branch

I have no intention of commenting or passing judgement on allegations that have surfaced against UKIP's 'Welsh leader', Nathan Gill, that he misused European money. Gill robustly denies these allegations and they are now in the hands of the EU counter-fraud body Olaf, who are looking into them.

What is more interesting though is where these allegations came from. The Western Mail say that they originated from former employees of Gill, an indication of how toxic things have become within UKIP's Welsh branch.

The party's Assembly leader, Neil Hamilton has issued a statement in which he asks whether this 'shocking news' was the reason Gill resigned from the UKIP Assembly group. I think it is a fair bet that he knows this was not the reason.

Hamilton also says that the easiest way to put this matter to rest is for Gill to 'publish all details of his MEP's emoulments and expenses claims since May 2014, together with full supporting documentation'. Hamilton goes on to imply some form of conspiracy by adding that 'for some reason' Gill refuses to publish this information.

I am currently reading a book about Bill Clinton's presidency and this is precisely the sort of innuendo that was used to go after the Clintons over the Whitewater controversy. A scandal in which both were cleared of any wrongdoing several times over.

Although Neil Hamilton is right to draw attention to the excellent practise of the Welsh Assembly of publishing details of all Assembly Members expense claims within three months of them being settled, even that exemplary scheme does not make available the sort of documentation Hamilton wants Gill to put into the public domain.

As it happens I agree that MEP's expenses should be published in the same way as those of Welsh Assembly Members and Gill and the other Welsh MEPs should set an example by doing so voluntarily. However, to pretend that such a publication will make this investigation go away as Hamilton does, is misleading and he knows it.

Allegations have been made and the investigation will have to follow its own course irrespective of the public bitching between two of Welsh UKIP's most prominent members.

Meanwhile, Guido Fawkes has published an interesting e-mail from Neil Hamilton, sent to members of UKIP's NEC on Sunday, days before details of the allegations against GIll became publicly known.

The e-mail linked to articles about Hamilton's rivals and contained the pointed question: 'I wonder if the authorities are investigating anyone else named in the articles above? Somehow, I don't think this is going to end well.'

Hamilton is no stranger to allegations of impropiety himself, but he has never been accused of possessing a crystal ball before.

Is it any wonder that UKIP are ripping themselves apart?
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