MEP who kept the UKIP flag flying in Fenland jailed for two years for expenses fiddle
THE former UKIP MEP who helped keep the flag flying in Fenland was jailed today for two years after confessing to a �39,000 expenses fiddle. Tom Wise, 62, whose support kept the Fenland branch active for many years, had claimed �3,000 a month in Euro cash
THE former UKIP MEP who helped keep the flag flying in Fenland was jailed today for two years after confessing to a �39,000 expenses fiddle.
Tom Wise, 62, whose support kept the Fenland branch active for many years, had claimed �3,000 a month in Euro cash for "secretarial assistance" over a year while paying a researcher Lindsay Jenkins �500.
Wise, who first represented UKIP before turning Independent, spent a year channelling taxpayers' cash into a bank account he secretly controlled.
Mrs Jenkins, 61, was acquitted in a joint trial, when Wise changed his plea to guilty to a charge of false accounting at a trial at Southwark Crown Court.
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Wise pretended the �3,000 "secretarial assistance allowance" he received every month was for his 62-year-old researcher Lindsay Jenkins.
However, the court heard he spent most of it funding a love of fine wine, clearing credit card debts, buying a car and funding party political activities.
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When his dishonesty was exposed by a national newspaper, he did his best to worm his way out of trouble by repaying a large slice of the cash. Prosecutor Mark Fenhalls said that, but for the discovery, Wise - thought to be the first British politician to be jailed for fiddling expenses - could have pocketed up to �180,000.
Wise, who left Ukip after the scandal, originally denied false accounting between October 14 and November 16 2004.
But during his trial, and just before Ukip leader Nigel Farage was to give evidence against him, Wise confessed.
He said he was entirely to blame and 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.