MEP arrested in fraud probe

POLICE have arrested a Euro MP representing the East of England on suspicion of obtaining money by deception, the EADT can reveal.

Graham Dines

POLICE have arrested a Euro MP representing the East of England on suspicion of obtaining money by deception, the EADT can reveal.

Tom Wise, who was elected for the UK Independence Party but who now sits as an Independent, is being investigated by detectives on behalf of the European Parliament authorities in Brussels.

Last night, a spokeswoman for Bedfordshire Police, which is conducting the inquiry, said: “I cannot confirm the name but we have arrested a man on suspicion of obtaining money by deception. At this stage we cannot say how many counts this is on.”

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Mr Wise is one of seven Euro MPs representing the six counties of the East of England - Suffolk, Essex, Norfolk, Cambridgeshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire - who were elected in 2004.

Mr Wise, who lives in Leighton Buzzard, hit the headlines in May this year when he was accused by a national newspaper of bragging to an undercover reporter how he had spent a day “shamelessly dodging work” and how he “milks the taxpayers for thousands every week in allowance and expenses claims.”

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After the story was published, Mr Wise replied on his website: “There is abuse across the EU, with millions of euros squandered on pointless, minority serving interests and the system of remunerating MEPs is part of it.

“I claim that which is available to me. I do not fiddle, embezzle or otherwise operate any scam for the purposes of unlawfully extracting more than this. I believe the system is disgraceful and should be changed.”

In February 2007, Mr Wise was suspended by UKIP when at the centre of a European Parliament inquiry over allegations he claimed money to pay for one of his staff's wages but did not pass all the cash on to her.

At the time, UKIP said he had been suspended “for failure to provide information responding to alleged fraud irregularities that are now being investigated by OLAF (the European anti-fraud body).”

Following the withdrawal of the UKIP whip, Mr Wise has sat as an Independent in the Parliament, although he is still aligned to the Independence and Democracy group.

A spokesman for the European Parliament's London office said Euro MPs were governed by the same rules as those affecting MPs in the country they represent.

Mr Wise, formerly political adviser and office manager in Chelmsford for UKIP's first Euro MP Jeffrey Titford, would be disbarred from office if he was found guilty and receives a jail term exceeding 12 months.

Mr Wise, who has been bailed by police, said last night he had voluntarily attended the police station and agreed to return for a further interview at a later date.

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