Hamilton cleared over expenses

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Published: Wednesday 14th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Ukip’s deputy chairman Neil Hamilton has been cleared of any impropriety over his expenses claims.

The former Tory minister, who claimed he was the victim of a “dirty tricks” campaign after details of the investigation were leaked, has been told that “all outstanding questions” about his expenses had been answered.

Mr Hamilton retains his post as deputy chairman and is to carry out a major fund-raising exercise for the party in the build-up to May’s general election.

Ukip chairman Steve Crowther wrote to Mr Hamilton to say: “I am happy to report on behalf of the party that all outstanding questions in relation to your expenses have been resolved entirely to the NEC’s satisfaction.”

In a statement Mr Hamilton said party leader Nigel Farage had “apologised on behalf of Ukip” for the leak of the letter about his expenses.

Details of the letter to Mr Hamilton from Ukip’s finance committee about his expenses were reported by Channel 4 News last month.

The letter asked Mr Hamilton to bear in mind that expenses had to be “fully explainable” to the pensioners who sent money to the party’s Lexdrum House HQ in Newton Abbot, Devon.

Mr Hamilton was also asked to state why he charged VAT on his salary from the party during his time as campaign manager in the run-up to the European elections, a job the letter said he was subsequently “removed” from.

The letter said the committee had been told that the arrangement had not been agreed.

“We have seen the email trail and would like an explanation as to why you did not go back to those who agreed this salary and why you did not make it known that you intended to charge VAT on your salary by charging Ukip through a company for your services as this incurred Ukip in extra costs.

“It is accepted that Ukip would have had to pay employer’s NI which is substantially less than VAT.

“What is wrong here, is that you failed to go back to the management committee to clear the arrangement knowing that Ukip was at all times during this campaign short of money.”

Sources close to Mr Hamilton insisted that the investigation was not prompted by suspicion of impropriety but by “deficiencies in the party’s record-keeping of employees’ pay and expenses generally”.

The letter emerged shortly before a meeting to decide on the party’s candidate in South Basildon and East Thurrock, where Mr Hamilton was standing.

Mr Hamilton ended up using his speech to support Kerry Smith, who was selected only to later quit the party after being recorded using derogatory terms about homosexuals and Chinese people.

The party has now selected Ian Luder to contest the seat.

Published: Wednesday 14th January 2015 by The News Editor

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