Wednesday 23 July 2014

Chapter from my book on the allegations!

  • 24. Blip
    The phone rang at 7.30 in the morning. The caller said he was a Detective Inspector from West Midlands Police.
    'Are you at home?'
    'No. I'm on my way to Brussels. What's this about?'
    'We'll call you back in five minutes.'
    'But –'
    'We'll call you back.' They rang off.
    I was exasperated. If there'd been a burglary why didn't he say so? I often drive to and from Brussels and I had spent the night in a hotel near the British end of the Channel Tunnel. I needed to get my car onto the train in the next hour. It was February 2012, still dark, and I was in a hurry.
    He called back. 'We have a warrant to search your house.'
    'What? Why?'
    'I can't tell you that. You need to be here.'
    'I'm supposed to be in Brussels.'
    'If you have to go to Brussels for your work, then so be it. But I would advise you to come home.'
    'Please tell me why?'
    'I'm not prepared to tell you on the phone.'
    'I've got to make a value judgement here. To carry on with my duties in Brussels or turn back. Is this about a driving with a bald tyre, or murder? Where along that line?'
    He hesitated. 'It's concerned with your mandate.'
    That meant my term as an MEP. 'Right,' I said. 'I’ll be there.'
    On the way home I phoned my solicitor and asked him to call the police. I did not have to go to my house. We would meet at his office and go to the police together, voluntarily.
    We walked into the police station. The caller had not informed me that they had two other warrants: one to search my office and another to arrest several members of my staff. Nor that I would be placed under arrest for conspiracy to defraud.
    The accusations were that:
    I had misclaimed travel allowances. (KERCHING! I knew where this was coming from.)
    I was paying bonuses to my staff that they were expected to pay back.
    It is now November 2013, twenty-one months since these events, and although my staff were released without a stain on their characters, I am still on police bail.
    Here's what actually happened. In July or August, 2009, when I became a UKIP MEP, a man started working for me in UKIP's Birmingham office. Let's call him ‘Faustus’.
    I took him with me to Brussels that August. I'd been a Member for about six weeks and the European Parliament building had just re-opened for business after the summer break. The idea was that when I communicated with Faustus, back in Birmingham, he'd be familiar with where I was working, as well as key individuals I was working with, and would understand the process of presenting data to the EU. He would be dealing with staff contracts, infrastructure, and travel - as well as acting as liaison between me and my constituents and advising me on the political situation at home.
    But within the first few months, I began to see him as a bit of an idiot. As my political advisor, at a time when I was in conflict with UKIP's Party leadership, he kept on urging me to leave UKIP and 'start my own party.' Well thanks, I thought. Fantasy wasn't really a big help at the time. But worse than this, he was disruptive. Two other members of staff were undermined by him and left. Finally, he proved unable to do even basic research or grasp a political point. After a series of clumsy errors, knowing how exasperated I was, he resigned before I could sack him. It was an acrimonious departure and he immediately started work for another UKIP MEP.
    I became non-inscrit in the New Year. Around the time of the General Election in May 2010, my team and I found that documents, including itemised phone bills, were missing from the Birmingham office. I was very uncomfortable about this. I have some well known friends – household names. I'd had meetings with senior politicians who for a variety of reasons would not want it to be known that I was talking to them. Records of these discussions were confidential.
    I could not be sure exactly when these documents had disappeared. But this was paperwork that Faustus had worked on and it did occur to me that he could have taken it when he left, or later, since my office had still been in the UKIP building after he'd gone to work for someone else. I reported the theft to the police at the time, but was told that there was insufficient evidence to press charges. It is an odd area of law; some of the missing data had been on the computer (and electronic information doesn't come under the Theft Act) but there were also physical records, such as telephone bills.
    Then I discovered that yet more documents had gone. The police agreed that there was circumstantial evidence, but not enough to arrest Faustus. By this time some of the data was being put up on the internet – stuff that had been stolen as hard copy, including the employment contract of his successor.
    August, 2010, was my first opportunity to take stock. It had been a tumultuous first year in office, with a lot of Human Rights work, a new office to set up, and mobile surgeries to organise. There had been many weeks of sixteen-hour days. But now, just as we were about to start our important referendum campaign, I did something I had not found time to do before. One of the things I'd learned in America was that you should occasionally sit at your employees' desks. So in August, 2010, this is what I did.
    You take a look around the office. You see things in the way that they see things. It gives you a different perspective. Look at the screen in front of you. What are they working on? How do they do it? I noticed something slightly wrong about the expenses’ claims in the system and when I got back to Brussels I told the relevant authorities. A lot of the data I needed to show them was among the material that had already been stolen, but I could see that my claims for travel to and from Brussels and/or Strasbourg didn't look right. It wasn't the dates or amounts so much as the method of travel. I drive a lot; putting the car on the Eurostar, you're across the Channel in half an hour. I do my best thinking when I drive. I come up with ideas.
    I tried to find out when this had started to go wrong and asked the staff. It turned out to be a problem with the system that Faustus had put in place. He had been incompetent. I did not assume that what he'd done was deliberate; it was just riddled with errors, inaccuracies - it made me regret that I hadn't decide to sack him before he resigned.
    I have, and never had, the remotest impulse to defraud the EU. Why would I? All you have to do to make money, legally, as an MEP is nothing. You could have your ‘office’ in the broom cupboard of your house, produce no magazines, newsletters or anything else. You could employ your spouse at whatever salary you deem appropriate. The current secretarial allowance is £215,000 a year and you can give it to one person.  I use it to rent an office in Birmingham and employ a staff of eight.
    As an MEP it seems you can claim a large salary, and many perks, yet do only as much, or as little, as you choose. Below is an excerpt from a newspaper article published in the Independent on 20 September, 2012, which is a scathing critique of UKIP’s performance.
    ‘Between them, the party’s 12 MEPs have tabled no reports, 11 have tabled no opinions, nine have signed no written declarations or motions, and seven have tabled no amendments to reports, ranking them at the bottom of the pile out of all 753 MEPs. Or at least that is what the Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies claims, after poring over the figures. “In Brussels the UKIP representatives reduce our country’s reputation to that of a laughing stock. The nearest thing to a UKIP MEP you are likely to see is an empty seat,” he said.
    It could be argued that UKIP MEPs have better things to do than hang around in Brussels, since their mission is to get Britain out of the EU – an argument that would stand up better if they had not trousered £11.5 million in salaries, staffing and office costs. And that is not counting their expenses.
    If I wanted to get rich the MEP's salary is an easy and legal way to do so. Instead I regularly break the EU working Hours directive by putting in 70 hours a week and £30,000 of my net salary is fed back into funding my work.
    But the problem identified by my arrest was my signature at the bottom of claim forms from the late summer of 2009, my first couple of months as an MEP, when Faustus was responsible for my EU admin.  Why had I signed these forms? Because I didn't read them. I had mountains of work, heaps of paperwork – and admin is what you employ staff to do. I was naïve enough to trust him.
    Yet this police bail is a hell of a thing to have hanging over me. It may still be there next year when I stand again as an MEP. I have talked for hours about this with my solicitor, and decided to do nothing. I could spend around £30,000 to obtain a Judicial Review on the grounds that this is an unfair process, but if the judge declines to interfere with police work, as judges often do, then I'll attract headlines – 'MEP fails in her attempt to block fraud enquiry.' I could demand that the police either charge me or let me go; if they did decide to charge me, this too would mean headlines. Although it's likely that the case will eventually be dropped, mud sticks. It's axiomatic that there's no such thing as bad publicity. Of  course there is.
    That arrest in 2012 does not stop me from standing in the Euro-elections of 2014. But it is a big pebble to throw at me from the back of the crowd. I can only follow my solicitor's advice and carry on with my job. I am writing about it now only because it has to be acknowledged.

Nicole Sinclaire

Press Statement re charges of Misconduct of Public Office and Money Laundering, by the West Midlands Police on former MEP Nikki Sinclaire.

Press Statement re charges of Misconduct of Public Office and Money Laundering, by the West Midlands Police on former MEP Nikki Sinclaire.

‘I am disappointed that the police have chosen to charge me with the above offences without questioning me on them, after a two and a half year investigation.

‘The charges relate to my time as a UKIP MEP when I was under the guidance and oversight by the Party in the Parliament.  This will prove pivotal in resolving the matter.

‘During my time as an MEP I put in more than £120,000 of my salary into the cost of my work activities.

‘It was also me, who in 2010, drew the attention of the West Midlands Police, to irregularities I discovered had taken place, without my knowledge, in my UKIP office.

‘I strongly refute these charges and will be firmly defending myself. I am certain I shall be found innocent of these ludicrous and unfounded accusations.’

Friday 20 June 2014

Kyrenia, Cyprus still illegally occupied Forty Years on

This weekend I am visiting the exiled Municipality of Kyrenia whom earlier this year I hosted in the European Parliament. (Please see attached video) next month marks the 40th anniversary of the illegal Turkish invasion. Which displaced the Greek Cypriot community. Disturbingly more than 1100 families still do not know what happened to lived ones who simply disappeared.

I will be writing more about this over the weekend.

We're coming home, we're coming home, our footballers are coming home, 50 years of Hurt...

So, once again England failed to live up to expectations! Surprised? Not me, disappointed perhaps. Once again we have a manager that fits the team around over hyped players ratter than placing players into a team structure. The late great Bill Shankly said that football is a simple game complicated by fools. How right he was, that complications starts with the idiots at the FA and perminates through football. Now the usual excuses are being rolled out. The Premiership season is too long, no winter break. That long season without a winter break did not seem to affect a certain Mr Suarez who was only 75% match fit or Van Persie etc etc. maybe we simply are not as good as we think we are.

However, ever the internal optimist, we are not out yet. I'm all of sudden a Italy fan and I'm humming the great escape....

Thursday 19 June 2014

Press Release - Nikki Sinclaire MEP Condemns UKIP Association With Nazis in European Parliament

Press Release - Nikki Sinclaire MEP Condemns UKIP Association With Nazis in European Parliament

UKIP has announced that it will form a political group in the European Parliament with far-right politicians, including 2 MEPs from the controversial Sweden Democrats. The party leader, Nigel Farage, had been struggling to find the requisite 7 nationalities in order to form a group.

The Swedish party was founded in 1988 by Gustaf Ekström, a former soldier in Hitler's Waffen SS, and an active Nazi since the 1940s. It has attracted controversy ever since. As recently as 2013, a Sweden Democrats parliamentarian, Erik Almqvist, resigned his seat after being previously filmed in Stockholm on a drunken rampage, armed with a scaffold pole, carrying out several assaults, one racially motivated, and one against a woman, in the street with another member of the party.

Ms Sinclaire said "I am appalled. That this party should be elected to the European Parliament confirms my fears about the state of European democracy, and it shows just how far Nigel Farage will go in order to hold onto his cherished position as the president of a political group in an institution he claims to oppose."

Ms Sinclaire was elected to the European Parliament in 2009 as a UKIP MEP, but left the party's political group, the EFD, because of her strong objections to "racist" and "homophobic" elements within the group.

UKIP has also accepted into its parliamentary group Joelle Bergeron, who was elected in May's European Elections to represent the French Front Nationale. The French party has been ostracised in recent weeks for anti-Semitic remarks made by founder Jean-Marie LePen, the father of current party leader Marine LePen.

Nikki Sinclaire said "UKIP claim that they will not allow former members of the BNP or the National Front into the party under any circumstances. But on the basis of two letters from the Swedish MEPs saying that their party is no longer racist, they are accepted into UKIP's group. Despite all his condemnation of Front Nationale in the UK press, he allows an MEP elected for that party to sit alongside UKIP in Brussels and Strasbourg."


Wednesday 4 June 2014

Never Give Up - available now

Never Give Up - available in hardback from discount code MIDLANDS for your £10 copy + p&p

Also available on amazon kindle for all you e-book converts. Click here to download your copy

Monday 2 June 2014

Qatar: Nikki Sinclaire MEP on Kafala and Slave Labour.

Qatar: Nikki Sinclaire MEP on Kafala and Slave Labour.

Qatar has a highly unusual economy. It is a nation of two million people with an 80% immigrant population. Only 6% of Qataris are economically active. Indians make up the largest share of the population with over half a million. 85% of those employed work 6 days a week, 10% work 7 days.

Unsurprisingly, 89% of Qatari people think that immigration is a positive thing.

The Kafala system requires all unskilled workers to have a Qatari sponsor, usually their employer, who assumes responsibility for their visa and legal status. This system has been widely condemned for creating easy opportunities for the exploitation of the workers, as many employers take away passports and sexually abuse their workers with legal impunity. Many workers complain about not being properly paid, a situation recently confirmed in an Amnesty International report. 43% of migrant workers are employed through agencies, and in many cases, they will have taken out loans in order to get to Qatar.

This system is blind, deaf, and dumb when it comes to the plight of these imported workers. The private sector sees no reason to change the system, and cultural traditions are often cited as a reason to resist change. Religion is used as justification for attitudes on homosexuality, for example. There is no desire for trade unions, nor is there any genuine interest in human rights. 

In March of this year, I attended a two day Human Rights Delegation to the country to speak to the Government, civil society and the workers themselves about the claims of 'Slave Labour' that are being made.

I visited the Qatar Deportation Detention Centre, which was criticised by a UN Rapporteur last November as being overcrowded and unhygienic.  We were shown a propaganda film, and were told that most detainees spend only 48 hours there - 7 days if they choose to appeal against deportation. However, some inmates told us they had been there in excess of 7 days - and we saw 3 or 4 people sharing a bed. When I asked, I was told they like it that way, they find it "cosy".  I was told that there was other living space allocated, but it could not seen as it was a bad day. I was told that some foreign embassies "dump" people on the centre, which causes overcrowding. The foreign ambassadors I met strongly denied this.

Former inmates we met spoke of deplorable overcrowded conditions.

The Ministry of the Interior Human Rights Department claimed that all complaints were taken seriously, but a questionnaire for complainants that I was given allowed no opportunity to express any complaint.

After I tweeted comments about the response I received to my questions on LGBT issues, the head of our delegation was summoned to the Foreign Ministry and told that they were not happy with me.

The gentleman in charge of drawing up welfare standards for the 2022 World Cup standards disputed the suggestion that LGBT fans attending matches would be discriminated against. I find that hard to believe in a country where male homosexuality is a criminal offence. Otherwise, I was impressed by his obviously genuine desire that the tournament should be a catalyst for change. The Qatari bid was, after all, based on social and economic development.

Challenges were made re the allegations of bribery and the World Cup bid. The organising committee were dismissive and said they kept within the rules. Their sincerity in their reply did not impress me.

Qatar is preparing a radical overhaul of the Kafala system in response to mounting criticism.

The expected reform is likely to include shifting sponsorship of foreign workers, who constitute a majority of the tiny Gulf state's population, from individual employers to the government. It would also allow workers to seek alternative employment without permission of their sponsor after a period of notification.

However, this may merely amount, at the end of the day, to window dressing. Kafala will remain, although it may be renamed.

As we look to 2022, what can the international community do? Certain individual member states have leverage; particularly France, Germany, and the UK, but the Belgian ambassador was very candid in telling us that the EU has "no relevance" in addressing this issue. An issue that is not about politics, but about social and economic justice.

Friday 30 May 2014

At Derwen College open day yesterday

West Midlands MEP Nikki Sinclaire yesterday spent the afternoon at Derwen college at their open day. 

Nikki was given a guided tour of the college around ten days previously, and was so impressed by what she saw; she vowed to visit on the colleges open day.

Despite the rainy weather, the MEP had a great afternoon meeting with students and staff on the very busy campus.

Nikki Sinclaire MEP said,

“This was the one visit on the campaign trail that really stuck with me. This college reaffirmed why I believed it was important to be an MEP, to champion local causes like this.
Colleges like this need support of politicians, both locally and at EU level.
This is a positive place to be. This is a college of achievement, and with a clear focus of what people can do, not what they can’t do”.

Nikki is also backing the colleges, “It’s a right, not a fight” initiative,

“It is incredibly frustrating when you hear of families from the West Midlands having to fight for funding at colleges such as Derwen. The students are passionate about their lives at Derwen – why should someone behind a desk take that away from them? Parents spoke to me today about their struggle with funding. It shouldn’t be that way. Local authorities should travel to Derwen to see the work first hand. Maybe then attitudes would change”. 

She added,

“It’s great to see former pupils, current students and the local community coming together to support the Fete and open day. This college is quite clearly valued and loved by the local community”.

With Danny, or Daisy the Cow as he was dressed yesterday!