Sunday, 16 August 2009

Character is what you do when something goes wrong

"anonymous" is leaving comments on my blog about alleged financial irregularities from UKIP MEPs and daring me to publish them. I make it quite clear that I don't publish anonymous comments that I don't agree with, it's my blog, why should I? If "anonymous" would care to put his (or her) name on their comment then I'd be happy to publish them and engage in debate.

Anonymous is raising the old chestnut about a UKIP MEP making fraudulent benefit claims. This is just untrue and I'm fairly sure anonymous knows this but chooses to twist the facts to suit his purpose. A UKIP MEP CANDIDATE, in 2004, did make benefit claims that subsequently turned out to be fraudulent. That is true. However, immediately the facts were known UKIP suspended the candidate and demanded his resignation from UKIP. When the Candidate refused to resign then he was expelled from UKIP. The candidate was NEVER a UKIP MEP. Where the water gets muddy is that UKIP didn't find out about the alleged fraud until after 2004 nominations had closed. The candidate in question was on the published list and so UKIP couldn't remove them. Unfortunately UKIP did well enough in that election that this Candidate's place on the published list was high enough to get him elected and he was therefore legally entitled to take the seat as an independent if he wished to. That is what he did! He never sat as a UKIP MEP and no-one was more angry about his taking the seat than UKIP. UKIP tried for 5 years to get him removed but the European Union Rules didn't allow that to happen. Of course he is no longer an MEP as UKIP took the seat back in 2009!

So the facts are that in 2004 a UKIP CANDIDATE was alleged to be making fraudulent benefit claims. IMMEDIATELY this was know by UKIP the Candidate was asked to resign from the party and step down as a Candidate. The Candidate refused and was expelled from UKIP. Unfortunately under EU Rules as nominations had closed it was not possible for the candidate's name to be removed from the ballot paper. When that candidate was subsequently elected he was entitled to sit as an independent MEP, which is what he did. UKIP tried for 5 years to get him removed but the EU Rules protected him. He lost his seat in the 2009 election when UKIP won it back.

So when faced with a situation of alleged sleaze UKIP acted quickly and firmly and expelled the candidate. There has never been a UKIP MEP convicted of benefit fraud. UKIP also reviewed their selection procedures for 2009 to include Police Background Checks to ensure the situation could never arise again. These checks were not in place in 2004, at that time UKIP had only been in existence 10 years ans so was still fairly naive when it came to things like this. UKIP is considerably more professional and better organised now!

So a test of Character is what you do when something goes wrong. UKIP acted firmly and quickly to sort out the problem and prevent it happening again.

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