Former MEP Guilty Of Expenses Fiddle

(Reuters) – A FORMER MEMBER OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT pleaded guilty today to carrying out an expenses fiddle costing almost £40,000.

Tom Wise, 61, who first represented the fringe UK Independence Party (UKIP) before becoming an independent, spent a year channelling taxpayers’ cash into a bank account he secretly controlled.

He pretended the £3,000 ‘secretarial assistance allowance’ he received every month was for his 62-year-old researcher Lindsay Jenkins; but paid her just £500 and kept the rest for himself.

‘He used the funds, for example, to buy a car, to purchase fine wines and pay off some of his credit card debts,’ prosecutor Mark Fenhalls told London’s Southwark Crown Court.

Fenhalls said when the fraud was exposed by a national newspaper four years ago, Wise, who was elected East of England MEP for UKIP in June 2004, cancelled the claim and tried to repay the money.

‘He did so because he had been caught and was trying to minimise the trouble he was in,’ the prosecutor said. ‘Perhaps he hoped by swift repayment he could somehow head off further inquiry.’

Police said the politician had admitted inappropriately claiming £39,000 worth of allowances.

Wise, from Leighton Buzzard, Bedfordshire, had denied false accounting but changed his plea on the third day of his three-week trial, the Press Association reported.

The researcher Jenkins, who had also been on trial, was then cleared.

Wise, who will be sentenced next week, was kicked out of UKIP over the scandal and did not stand for re-election in June.

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