Senior Labour figures in Wales have raised major questions about UKIP’s results in last year’s shock Assembly elections after an official report investigating a huge fraud found there was “non-eligible expenditure”, The Eye can reveal.
The Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE), a European Union (EU) Parliamentary organisation in which UKIP is the largest group, was asked to return over €170,000, after EU officials uncovered a breach of the rules arising from the alliance pouring money into the United Kingdom’s 2015 general election and the Brexit referendum.
The EU report on the misspending concluded that: “These services were not in the interest of the European party, which could neither be involved in the national elections nor in the referendum on a national level.
“The constituencies selected for many of the polls underline that the polling was conducted in the interest of UKIP.
“Most of the constituencies can be identified as being essential for reaching a significant representation in the House of Commons from the 2015 general election or for a positive result for the leave campaign”.
But crucially for Wales, the report also says there were “a substantial number of activities for which financing ought to be considered as non-eligible expenditure”, in respect of spending on polls around the Scottish and Welsh elections in 2016.
In the Welsh assembly elections in May of that year Labour’s share of the vote fell by more than seven per cent, but UKIP’s soared and they secured seven members through the regional list system.
But senior Labour figures have told us those results are now in doubt.
One said: “This is shocking stuff which has been largely overlooked.
“If some of UKIP’s spending was wrong that calls into question those seats they won in Wales.”
Another added: “This really needs looking into now.”
Yet this is not the first time UKIP in Wales has hit the headlines for the wrong reasons.
Their leader in the assembly, Neil Hamilton AM, hit out at senior figures in his own party in the wake of an “altercation” involving the UKIP MEP, Steven Woolfe.
He told Channel 4 News that while the incident was “most regrettable”, it had prompted him to speak out.
Mr Hamilton has been at odds with senior figures in the party for some time.
His arch-rival Nathan Gill AM, was ousted by him as leader in the assembly and now sits as an independent in Cardiff Bay.
Mr Hamilton, a regional AM for Mid and West Wales, defeated Mr Gill, elected as an AM for North Wales, by four votes to three.
He was backed by North Wales AM Michelle Brown, South Wales Central AM Gareth Bennett and South Wales West AM Caroline Jones, while Mr Gill had the support of the two South Wales East AMs, Mark Reckless and David Rowlands.
Media reports at the time, described it as “civil war” in UKIP.
Problems continued at their party conference in September.
Mr Hamilton was all set to tell delegates in Bournemouth that his group of AMs was providing a template for the party in the rest of the UK but the speech was cancelled.
Even worse for him, his slot was given to Mr Gill.
Mr Hamilton has a colourful past.
In December 1999 his high-profile libel case against The Guardian was defeated, and he lost his appeal a year later.
A high court jury unanimously declared the former Conservative MP corrupt.
But an official EU report saying there was “non-eligible expenditure” in the UKIP election does not need to be said in court.