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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 14:53 GMT
Jailed MEP told to repay benefits
Ashley Mote
Mote was elected as an MEP in 2004 as a member of UKIP
An MEP for south-east England must repay the 67,000 of falsely claimed benefits that led to him being jailed.

Former UKIP member Ashley Mote, who was found guilty of 21 offences at Portsmouth Crown Court in September, has now been released from prison.

He had challenged the Social Security Commissioners' demand that the benefits be repaid as they were overpayments, but civil appeal judges threw it out.

Mote, 71, awaits the result of an appeal against his criminal conviction.

Breach of privilege

He has retained his seat in Europe because he would only have been disqualified if he had received a term of imprisonment of more than 12 months.

Mote, who was elected as an MEP in 2004 as a member of UKIP, sat as an independent MEP after being thrown out of the party.

During the trial the court heard he had run a successful business which collapsed in 1992.

He had begun claiming income support and benefits, but failed to notify the benefits agency when he began earning money again in 1996.

The offences, totalling 65,506, occurred between February 1996 and September 2002 while Mote was living in Langley, West Sussex.

The court found him guilty of eight charges of false accounting, eight of obtaining a money transfer by deception, four of evading liability and one of failing to notify a change of circumstances.

Loan application

Lord Justice Richards, giving the ruling of the civil Court of Appeal on Friday, said that in June 2004, not long after his criminal case was referred to the crown court, he was elected as a Euro MP and the criminal proceedings were stayed on the ground that they were in breach of his privilege as an MEP.

In July 2005, the European Parliament waived his immunity and he was later convicted and jailed in 2007.

The appeal judges said the fact that he had to give evidence at his appeal over the demands for repayment would not have prejudiced the criminal proceedings.

At the appeal before the Social Security Commissioners, it was found that in 2000 Mote gave information to Sainsbury's Bank in a loan application that he had a monthly income of 4,000 and had paid a total of 60,394 into an Isle of Man account between 1996 and 2000.

None of this information was supplied by Mote to the officials providing his income support and housing benefits.

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