​British ex-MEP jailed for 5 years over expenses fraud

​British ex-MEP jailed for 5 years over expenses fraud
A former UKIP MEP has been jailed for five years at South London’s Southwark Crown Court for unlawfully claiming almost £500,000 worth of expenses from the European Parliament (EP).

Ashley Mote, 79, of Hampshire, southern England, submitted false claims for his parliamentary allowance, and used the funds to pay for court battles that ensued.

The former MEP fraudulently obtained nearly €355,000 (US$391,000) and £184,000 ($286,000) of allowances to which he was not entitled.

The jury found him guilty on four counts of obtaining funds in a deceitful manner, three counts of false accounting, two of fraud, and one each of acquiring criminal property, concealing criminal property and theft.

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It took the jury an hour and 42 minutes to find Mote guilty of the criminal offences, which had been committed between November 2004 and July 2010.

Mr. Justice Stuart Smith, who presided over the case, said Mote “lied and lied again” during the trail.

On sentencing, Stuart-Smith told Mote his “greed and dishonesty” was matched only by his “hypocrisy.”

While this was going on, you carried out a high-profile campaign condemning corruption and the improper use of public money in the very institution which you were leeching it,” Stuart-Smith added.

The judge said Mote “abused” his position of trust that the European Parliament placed in him by consistently lying.

You knew perfectly well what the rules were for the claiming of expenses and you also knew perfectly well that what you were doing had nothing to do with funding whistleblowers and everything to do with funding your bridging loan, your mortgage, your legal expenses that were unrelated to your role as an MEP,” he said.

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“[The jury] listened to you closely for days as you lied, protested, lied and lied again about the monies you had fraudulently claimed as expenses while serving your constituents and your country as an MEP.”

Between 2004 and 2010, Mote deceived colleagues who shared his political ideals and considered him to be a political hero.

In 2014, he was elected as UKIP MEP for South East England, but was expelled from the party shortly afterwards, having been prosecuted by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for benefits fraud. He sat as an independent MEP until 2009.

UKIP party leader Nigel Farage told the BBC Mote was never a UKIP MEP, but was “elected on a UKIP list.”

I found out very quickly and thought he was a wrong ‘un so I kicked him out of the party,” Farage said, insisting this would be Mote’s “second prison sentence.