Tom Wise MEP in the European Parliament Ind - Dem Group UK Independence Party UKIP Eastern Region Region
An open letter to all UKIP members, 23rd June 2008
You will know that I have left the Ind Dem group and sit as a "non aligned" MEP. I have detailed the reasons in a previous posting.
I have recently taken formal action to address what I consider to be inappropriate or even illegal use of Ind Dem funds. I am writing to you now as I strongly suspect you will soon be receiving other information that might not be strictly true.
The issue focuses around Pan-European political parties, which by their very nature are anathema to the UK Independence Party and everything it stands for. The Maastricht Treaty (article 138a) states that: "Political parties at European level are important as a factor for integration within the Union. They contribute to forming a European awareness and to expressing the political will of the citizens of the Union".
These parties exist to further the aims of European harmonization and integration. Indeed, regulation (EC) No 2004/2003, which provides for the funding of these parties, states: "it is necessary for political parties at European level to observe the principles on which the European Union is founded..." It also states that parties: "must have participated in elections to the European Parliament, or have expressed the intention to do so" (Article 3 (d)). Let us be clear, this means Pan-European political parties, funded by the EU and under an obligation to support the aims of European integration, will be competing for British seats in European elections, and presumably in future regional assembly elections.
The emergence of these parties threatens to undermine, even negate, eurosceptic and withdrawalist representation in the European Parliament, and possibly, eventually, at home. It is not widely appreciated that the political groups in the European Parliament that the British Conservative, Labour, and Lib Dems belong to are also registered as political parties in their own rights. It is vital, to maintain political integrity, that UKIP remains outside these parties. However, through membership of the Independence & Democracy Group, UKIP is actually supporting one such party, the EU Democrats (EUD).
The President of the EUD is Jens-Peter Bonde, until recently co-President of Ind Dem. Three other Ind Dem MEPs are also members of the EUD, although no UKIP MEPs or staff are associated with the party. The Provisional Board and Steering Committee of the EUD includes five people known to be on Ind Dem contracts. These include a vice-President of the EUD, her husband and her cousin.
The current employment statuses of two other members of the EUD Committee are unknown, but they are believed to have been employees of the EDD, the fore-runner of Ind Dem during the 1999 - 2004 Parliament.
Requests for an Ind Dem staff organigram, showing staff establishment and deployment, have simply been ignored by the group secretariat. Staff members asking uncomfortable questions on this or other matters are charged by the Secretary General with "harassing secretariat staff", and have been subject to arbitrary and illegal disciplinary action which has required the intervention of the Quaestors to overturn. I suspect neither MEPs nor you have been made aware of any of this.
Although Jens-Peter Bonde has resigned his seat, he is expected to remain in Brussels where he will continue his work as President of the EUD. It appears that this may also be partly facilitated through Ind Dem funds.
Minutes of the Ind Dem group meeting of 9th April refer to Bonde's future work, and state that "An arrangement will be necessary if he has to move to Brussels with his family", and that "As it would be difficult to imagine a subordinated contract with the group an arrangement should be looked upon". Our MEPs cannot plead ignorance of this "arrangement": The minutes clearly show that Nigel Farage and Graham Booth were both present at the meeting. A meeting of the bureau, the persons responsible for the group's finances, earlier that day also referred to the need to find "appropriate conditions" to enable Bonde to move to Brussels.
However, regulation (EC) No 2004/2003 further states that "donations from the budgets of political groups in the European Parliament" are expressly forbidden (Article 6(c)).
This is all wrong, and is totally at odds with UKIP's mandate. During the recent consultation on membership of the Ind Dem group amongst UKIP's membership in the South West, Graham Booth wrote to members claiming, amongst other things, that membership of a political group brings with it additional funds. He failed to mention that each Ind Dem MEP surrenders 17% of his budget to the group. That amounts to 11,482.37 euros per MEP in the current financial year. Apparently that is needed to finance, amongst other things, staffing for the EU Democrats. One EUD official alone will draw a salary of 48,000 euros this year, from the Ind Dem's 4000 budget.
UKIP MEPs are generally kept in the dark about financial matters, although I find it hard to believe that as co-President of Ind Dem and as a member of the bureau Nigel Farage would not be aware of these issues. We must ask questions as to exactly whose interests are being furthered by UKIP's continued membership of Ind Dem.
I would not make these allegations were I not in possession of hard evidence. Following consultations, I have presented this to Roger Vanhaeran, Director General of Finance, who has subsequently confirmed that this matter is now the subject of a formal investigation. I am aware that Herman Verheirstraaten, Secretary General of Ind Dem, has been summoned to the office of Harald Romer, Secretary General of the Parliament, to explain himself.
Brussels; 23rd June 2008