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Last Updated: Friday, 21 December 2007, 14:25 GMT
Jailed MEP's fraud appeal fails
Ashley Mote
Ashley Mote was elected as an MEP in 2004 as a member of UKIP
A south-east England MEP jailed for falsely claiming benefits and ordered to repay 67,000 has lost his appeal against his conviction.

Former UKIP member Ashley Mote, who was found guilty of 21 offences and jailed for nine months in September, has now been released from prison.

Mr Mote said he "deeply regretted" the Court of Appeal's decision to reject his appeal against his conviction.

The 71-year-old has vowed to "mount a further appeal" in the future.

Mr Mote had also challenged the Social Security Commissioners' demand that the benefits be repaid as they were overpayments, but civil appeal judges threw it out earlier this month.

My lawyers intend to re-examine the case with a view to mounting a further appeal
Former UKIP member Ashley Mote

In a statement he said: "I deeply regret the decision of the Court of Appeal to reject my appeal against conviction for benefit fraud.

"My lawyers intend to re-examine the case with a view to mounting a further appeal.

"Meanwhile, I confirm that never ever would I seek to defraud the public purse.

"Nor did I intend to do so.

"Going to the benefits office at all was an agonising acknowledgement of at least temporary defeat.

"My only purpose - ever - was to get myself off benefit, not to sponge off the state."

False accounting

Mr Mote 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.

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

During the trial at Portsmouth Crown Court the jury heard how Mr Mote 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 he 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.

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