Nigel Farage: EU to investigate Brexit Party leader over 'undeclared' gifts

21 May 2019, 17:21 | Updated: 21 May 2019, 19:42

The EU is to investigate Nigel Farage over claims the Brexit Party leader failed to declare gifts worth up to a total of £450,000.

Sky's Europe correspondent Mark Stone has said the investigation centres on "Mr Farage's lifestyle as an MEP during the summer and autumn of 2016".

In that period, following the Brexit referendum, Mr Farage made lavish trips to the United States to meet then president-elect Donald Trump and other right-wing politicians, funded, it is alleged, by billionaire Arron Banks.

Other gifts provided by the insurance tycoon included a chauffeur-driven car and rent and bills on a £4.4m home in Chelsea, west London.

None of the gifts, detailed in invoices seen by Channel 4 News, were declared on Mr Farage's register of interests with the European parliament, which is designed to prevent MEPs from keeping their conflicts of interests secret.

Mr Banks, who co-founded Leave.EU, is under investigation by the National Crime Agency over allegations he and the unofficial campaign committed multiple criminal offences during the build-up to the EU referendum.

The issue is that Mr Farage, as an MEP, allegedly "did not declare where the funding had come from," Mark Stone said.

The allegations were taken up by Catherine Bearder, Lib Dem MEP for South East England, who wrote to European parliament president, Antonio Tajani, urging him to investigate.

Mr Tajani has asked the parliament's Advisory Committee on the Conduct of Members to examine whether Mr Farage broke parliamentary rules by accepting funding from Mr Banks.

The investigation will not start until after Thursday's EU elections, Mark Stone said.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Farage accused the Electoral Commission of being "absolutely full of Remainers" as the watchdog visited the party's headquarters as part of a review into its donations system.

The former UKIP leader dismissed Channel 4 News as "political activists" and confirmed he was no longer talking to them.

Under European parliament rules, Mr Farage could be fined up to around €10,000 (£8,800) through withholding of his subsistence allowance if he is found to have broken the rules and he could also be suspended.