26 Jun 2019

Exclusive: Nigel Farage accused of ‘serious breach’ of MEPs’ code of conduct in leaked letter

The committee acted after Channel 4 News revealed how Mr Farage’s lavish lifestyle was funded to the tune of £450,000 by Arron Banks’ companies.

The European Parliament Advisory Committee on the Conduct of
Members has told the President of the European Parliament that Nigel Farage should face the “highest penalty” for a “serious breach” of their Code of Conduct, according to a leaked letter containing their recommendations.

The committee of MEPs acted following a Channel 4 News investigation that revealed how Mr Farage’s lavish lifestyle was funded to the tune of £450,000 by Brexit donor Arron Banks’ companies in the year after the EU referendum.

The Channel 4 News report found that close to half a million pounds was
spent bankrolling Mr Farage, including rent payments, funding security, a
driver as well as flights and parties to launch “Brand Farage” in America.

Mr Banks is currently subject to a separate investigation by the National
Crime Agency over the source of funding for the Brexit campaign. He
denies any wrongdoing.

Channel 4 News has seen sections of a letter sent to President Antonio Tajani by the Parliament’s Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members, which assesses alleged breaches of the rules and advises the President on possible action.

In the leaked letter, the committee states that it “considers that Mr Farage committed a serious breach of the Code of Conduct” and that it believes “the seriousness of Mr Farage’s conduct would merit the highest penalty foreseen by the Parliament’s Rules of Procedure”.

It adds that the “Advisory Committee is particularly concerned that the
actions of Mr Farage could cause damage to the integrity and reputation
of the European Parliament”.

The Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members was asked by
President Tajani to carry out an investigation into Mr Farage’s conduct on
21 May, following the Channel 4 News report on 16 May.

Under the current rules, the President of the European Parliament has the power to issue a reprimand, temporarily suspend MEPs from Parliament – and from collecting their daily allowance – for up to 30 days.

The President can also stop an MEP from representing Parliament in certain circumstances for up to a year.

The committee’s letter also recommends that the President refer Mr Farage’s conduct to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF) for investigation and “liaise and cooperate with the UK national investigatory authorities, including the National Crime Agency, the Electoral Commission and the Metropolitan Police, in order for the full facts to be established.”

The letter concludes: “The Advisory Committee strongly believes that the
circumstances of this case merit extensive further investigation with
continuous EU-level supervision and cross-Member State collaboration,
including third countries when necessary.”

MEPs are required to act with “disinterest, integrity, openness, diligence,
honesty, accountability and respect for Parliament’s reputation”, to “act
solely in the public interest and refrain from obtaining or seeking to obtain any direct or indirect financial benefit or other reward”.

A spokesperson for Mr Farage tonight told Channel 4 News: “It is our view that if you make mention of this you will be in contempt of the Rules of Procedure of the European Parliament which confirm that the proceedings of the Advisory Committee are confidential.

“We find it amazing that you should be in possession of this letter before
Mr Farage’s office in Brussels has received any such information. This
demonstrates that Channel 4 are co-operating with an individual who
clearly dislikes Nigel Farage but nevertheless sits on a Committee which
purports to make judgements about him and who by leaking this letter
seeks to bounce the President into making a decision before he has seen
any evidence.

“This is unacceptable and a breach of protocols surrounding the operation of this Committee.”