17 November 2008
By Alex Forsyth
A disgraced Euro MP has been banned from using a bus to visit his constituents.
South-East MEP Ashley Mote has been told he will face legal action unless he sells the single-decker bus he has converted into an office and hands the cash back to the European Parliament.
The Danish secretary-general, Harald Romer, says buying the bus was 'an inappropriate use of parliamentary allowances'.
But Mr Mote, who was jailed last year for benefit fraud, says he needs the bus – which he has converted into a mobile office – to travel across the eight counties he covers.
He said: 'My constituency is from east Kent to west Hampshire, around London to north Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
'The bus is a mobile office that is an ideal way of solving the very real problem of how to make contact with my constituents.
'The response has been fantastic. It has enabled me to make contact with hundreds of constituents in some 30 towns and cities, many of whom had serious problems in their business and private lives caused directly by the European Union.
'Without the bus, they might never have found help.'
Mr Mote, an independent MEP, said he struck a deal with previous secretary-general Julian Priestly to spend about £9,000 on buying the bus and converting it into an office in 2005.
The bus remains the property of the European Parliament.
Part of the deal was that he would give the bus back before the elections next year and would not use it for campaigning.
But the new secretary-general says Mr Mote should never have bought it.
Mr Mote, of Binsted, near Alton, said: 'I had the permission of Mr Priestly.
'The European Parliament administration's decision to ban my bus is more about who I am and what I say than about the need to recover parliamentary funds. This ban is petty.'
Mr Romer said: 'This is not considered as an appropriate use of parliamentary allowances.'
The matter is currently being considered by the parliament's questors – members elected to manage parliament.