Page last updated at 13:21 GMT, Wednesday, 11 November 2009

MEP jailed over expenses fiddle

Tom Wise
Tom Wise represented East Anglia in the European Parliament

A former British MEP who admitted fiddling £39,000 worth of expenses has been jailed for two years.

Tom Wise, 61, from Leighton Buzzard in Bedfordshire, initially denied false accounting and money laundering during the case at Southwark Crown Court

But the former MEP for the East, who was thrown out of the UK Independence Party (UKIP), later pleaded guilty.

Wise took the money between 14 December 2004 and 24 December 2005, and spent it on cars and wine.

The court heard he had spent a year channelling taxpayers' cash into a bank account he secretly controlled.

Wise, of Ship Road in Leighton Buzzard, pretended the £3,000 "secretarial assistance allowance" he received every month was for his 62-year-old researcher Lindsay Jenkins.

MEP jailed over expenses fiddle

But after paying her just £500 each month he spent the rest "in support of his own interests", the court was told.

The court heard that when the fraud was exposed by a national newspaper four years ago the MEP "took steps to cancel the claim and repay the money".

"He did so because he had been caught and was trying to minimise the trouble he was in," the prosecution said.

Had it not been discovered, the scam could have lasted five years and netted £180,000, the jury heard.

Blank documents

Wise, a former policeman, previously represented UKIP before he had the party whip withdrawn in 2007 over the scandal.

After initially denying the charge, just before UKIP leader Nigel Farage was to give evidence against him, Wise confessed.

He said he was entirely to blame and Ms Jenkins, whom he had asked to sign blank documents, was innocent.

As a result his former researcher, of Queens Club Gardens, Barons Court, west London, who had also been on trial, was cleared of the false accounting charge as well as an allegation of using criminal property.



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SEE ALSO
Ex-MEP admits to expenses racket
05 Nov 09 |  England
British MEP denies fraud charges
27 Apr 09 |  England

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