POLITICS

Former MEP Nikki Sinclaire Charged With Money Laundering

23/07/2014 14:53 BST | Updated 23/07/2014 14:59 BST

A former Ukip MEP has been charged with money laundering and misconduct in public office after an inquiry into her expense claims.

The Crown Prosecution Service said the offences were Nikki Sinclaire, 45, allegedly committed the offences while a serving MEP for the West Midlands between October 2009 and July 2010 and they relate to travelling expenses claims she submitted.

nikki sinclaire

Sinclaire was a serving MEP when the fraud allegedly happened

Sinclaire lost her seat at May's European elections after leaving Ukip, following an argument with party leader Nigel Farage, and standing for the We Demand A Referendum Now party.

Her fame peaked when, on the floor of the European Parliament, she accused Farage - her former party leader turned eurosceptic rival - of employing his "mistress" with tax payers' money.

She asked: "With unemployment still a problem across Europe and indeed across the UK, does Mr Farage think it is a fair use of taxpayers' money, namely his secretarial allowance, not only to employ his wife Kirsten but his former mistress Annabelle Fuller?"

Farage and Fuller deny having an affair. Fuller complained of being "hounded" by the press over the allegations and even said they had drove her to attempting suicide.

Sinclaire will appear in Birmingham Magistrates' Court on September 17.

A police spokesman said: "West Midlands Police's Economic Crime Unit has today formally charged former MEP Nicole Sinclaire with misconduct in public office and money laundering.

"She will hear claims that she made false and dishonest submissions for travelling expenses and transferred the proceeds of fraud through a bank account in her name.

"The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1 October 2009 and 31 July 2010 when Ms Sinclaire was a serving Member of the European Parliament."

nikki sinclaire

Sinclaire will appear in court in September

Sinclaire, who lives in Shirley, near Solihull, was first arrested in February 2012 and has since been on police bail.

Three other members of the public were also arrested as part of the inquiry but will face no further action.

Simon Orme, a specialist lawyer with the CPS Special Crime Division, said: "It is alleged that, between October 2009 and July 2010, whilst serving as an MEP, Ms Sinclaire used funds paid into her bank account by the European Parliament in respect of false travelling expenses claims.

"Ms Sinclaire has also been charged with misconduct in a public office with regard to her actions.

"The decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.

"Criminal proceedings have now commenced and Ms Sinclaire has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."