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Friday, 12 March 2010

BNP fail to publish European expenses details

Nick Griffin, the British National Party leader and MEP, has not published details of his own expenses despite campaigning on an anti-sleaze platform during European elections

Nine months after accusing mainstream Westminster MPs and Brussels MEPs of having "their snouts in the trough", neither Mr Griffin, nor his BNP colleague Andrew Brons, have given any details of how they spend allowances worth a combined £530,000 every year.

According to Mr Griffin's website: "All accounts and expenses will be published on this page for complete transparency as soon as they become available." The "accounts and expenses" website section for Mr Brons, a Yorkshire MEP, has remained blank since last July.
Other Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat MEPs have all given detailed breakdowns of how allowances are spent since the European elections last June. Most British MEPs give salary band details of employees and justify travel, subsistence and other expenses.

The most recent parliamentary "declarations of financial interest" for both MEPs date back to June 16 2009, just days after they were both elected. Neither declaration gives any details of annual expenses, worth over £280,000 for each man.

Mr Griffin has used parliament assistant allowances, worth over £190,000, to employ three staff members, according to his website, but has given no details of their salary bands. Mr Brons employs four people but, also, gives no details of their wages.
One staffer, Martin Wingfield, is employed twice by both MEPs as a communications officer. Mr Wingfield's wife, Tina, also works for Mr Griffin.
European Parliament officials have told The Daily Telegraph that Mr Griffin and Mr Brons do not have any staffers accredited to work in the Brussels or Strasbourg seats of the EU assembly.

The Daily Telegraph has also learnt that the Electoral Commission has opened an investigation into the BNP's accounts after the party's auditor refused to sign off accounts for 2008.

The "case under review" concerns a suspected breach of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, which requires all party treasurers to file full and accurate accounts each year.

"There are reasonable grounds to believe there has been a breach of reporting requirements," said a spokesman.
The BNP, Mr Griffin and Mr Brons yesterday declined to comment or answer questions about the use of their allowances.
Chris Davies, a Liberal Democrat MEP for the North West, said: "The BNP's MEPs are shown to be less than open and transparent about their own financial affairs."

As well as staff allowances, both BNP MEPs, who earn a salary of £84,000 a year, receive a "general expenditure allowance" worth over £44,000 annually. While working in Brussels or Strasbourg, the two places where the parliament sits, MEPs pocket a £265 daily cash subsistence payment, worth over £40,000 tax-free every year.

The Telegraph