Ex-MEP faces jail over �36k expenses fiddle

A FORMER East of England Euro MP today confessed at Southwark crown court to masterminding a �36,000 expenses fiddle and is now facing jail.

Graham Dines

A FORMER East of England Euro MP today confessed at Southwark crown court to masterminding a �36,000 expenses fiddle and is now facing jail.

Tom Wise, 61, who lives in Leighton Buzzard, was elected to Brussels in 2004 for the UK Independence Party before being expelled from the party and turning independent.

He spent a year channelling taxpayers' cash into a bank account he secretly controlled, pretending the �3,000 “secretarial assistance allowance” he received every month was for his researcher Lindsay Jenkins.

But he only paid her �500 a month.

Mark Fenhalls, prosecuting at his trial, said: “He used the funds, for example, to buy a car, to purchase fine wines and pay off some of his credit card debts.”

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When the fraud was eventually exposed by a national newspaper four years' ago, the MEP promptly “took steps to cancel the claim and repay the money.”

On the third day of his three-week trial and just before UKIP leader Nigel Farrage was to give evidence against him, Wise began a protracted round of discussions with his legal team.

After several hours and an overnight adjournment to finalise details, the jury trying the case was discharged and Wise admitted he was guilty after all.

Jenkins, of west London, had also been on trial but was then cleared. She had denied both the false accounting charge and an allegation of using criminal property between November 14 2004 and November 1 the following year.