UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson suspended over false expenses claim
- Getty Images
UKIP has suspended MEP Janice Atkinson after it emerged that she has been claiming for expenses that she did not even incur. An investigation by the Sun newspaper revealed that a member of Atkinson's staff asked a restaurant to triple her bill from £950 to £3,150 for the purposes of claiming back expenses from the EU.
The incident in question took place at a restaurant in Margate, Kent following a recent UKIP event. Footage from the Sun investigation shows Atkinson's Chief of Staff Christine Hewitt asking a staff member to invoice her for a larger amount. Explaining the logic behind faking an invoice, Hewitt said "The idea is we overcharge them slightly because that's the way we repatriate it."
The invoice would then have been submitted as expenses to the EU's Brussels fund and Atkinson reimbursed for 300% of the actual cost of the food and drinks consumed. The MEP is no stranger to controversy and infamously last year she hit the headlines for calling a Thai constituent a "Ting Tong".
It is unclear at this stage whether Hewitt was acting of her own accord or if she was under instructions from Atkinson. UKIP leader Nigel Farage has admitted that the evidence does not look at all good either way saying "It looks very bad, it couldn't look worse and I'm astonished by it."
The Sun has provided copies of the footage to both the European Parliament and Kent Police and UKIP has taken the pre-emptive step of suspending Atkinson pending a full investigation. The MEP was expected to represent the party and fight for a seat in Folkestone and Hythe in the upcoming election but understandably this is now in considerable doubt.