- UKIP leader Paul Nuttall’s tenancy agreement for his European Parliament constituency office lists a smaller bill than that claimed on his expenses.
- He did not respond to repeated requests from Business Insider to explain the discrepancy.
- Nuttall faces a separate expenses investigation by the European Parliament.
LONDON — Paul Nuttall has not responded to multiple requests by Business Insider to explain how thousands of pounds he claimed for the UK office for his European Parliament constituency were spent.
The UKIP leader’s last declared set of expenses lists a claim for £7,280 for office costs, covering the last six months of 2015. However, a tenancy agreement seen by Business Insider suggests that this was well in excess of the amount that landlords charged.
Despite promising to provide explanations to Business Insider for the discrepancy, Nuttall’s spokesperson had not done so by the time of publication.
The lease agreement suggests that Nuttall shared a tenancy for an office in Water Street, Liverpool, with fellow UKIP Member of the European Parliament Louise Bours and former UKIP MEP Steven Woolfe, between 2014 and 2016.
Woolfe resigned from UKIP last year. A spokesperson for Woolfe said he had never used the Water Street office or claimed expenses for it.
Bours’ website indicates that she also claimed £7,280 for use of the Water Street office during the last six months of 2015, suggesting that she and Nuttall claimed £14,500 in total for that period. This is £4,306 more than the figure charged on the tenancy agreement.
A spokesperson for Nuttall and Bours initially suggested that they had spent some extra money on leasing office equipment. However, office equipment costs, communication costs and stationary are all accounted for separately in their expenses. The spokesperson did not respond to further requests for explanation.
Nuttall’s expenses for July-December 2015
Louise Bours’ expenses for July-December 2015
Nuttall and Bours’ published expenses also list a total of 19 UK-based members of staff, yet the tenancy agreement states that there were only 10 workstations in the Water Street office.
Their spokesperson suggested that they had shared some staff but did not provide further details.
The tenancy agreement for Nuttall and Bour’s office was with YSES, a now defunct company which offered “serviced offices” and “virtual offices” in Manchester and Liverpool. Nuttall and Bours now occupy other premises.
Nuttall’s spokesperson admitted that UKIP had used a “virtual office” for the party’s Liverpool branch but insisted that the Water Street office was a fully functioning full-time permanent office.
A spokesperson for Steven Woolfe said: “When elected in May 2014, Steven, Paul and Louise had a loose discussion about sharing a parliamentary office in Liverpool. While Steven’s name was originally put on the tenancy forms, Steven later decided to open his own office in Chester. Steven did not sign the tenancy agreement, has never contributed to the rent, and was not involved in the management, maintenance, opening or closure of the Liverpool office. To clarify, Steven opened his only parliamentary office in Chester at the start of his parliamentary term, which continues to serve the constituents of the North West today.”
Under European Parliament rules, MEPs do not have to provide receipts or evidence of how their “general expenditure allowance” is spent.
A court heard last year that parliamentary officials do not request details of MEP spending because it would create an excessive “administrative burden” on their work.
Nuttall and Bours are reportedly under investigation by the European Parliament, alongside Nigel Farage and five other UKIP MEPs, for the alleged misuse of parliamentary allowances. Parliamentary officials are looking into whether the party broke rules banning full-time EU-funded parliamentary assistants from working for the national party. The rules are intended to prohibit using parliament funds for purely political or election campaign purposes.
Any proven breach could lead to the party repaying demands totalling an estimated £500,000.
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