UK & World News
Nigel Farage: 'Expenses Claims Are Erroneous'
Nigel Farage has hit back over EU expenses claims saying as an MEP he can spend his taxpayer-funded allowances as he likes.
The UKIP leader is facing an investigation over how he uses £15,500 of yearly allowances he receives from the European Union, according to The Times newspaper.
The money was used to run his constituency office in Lyminster, West Sussex, according to UKIP records, however, he pays no rent as the property was gifted to him by party supporters.
Speaking to Sky News he said The Times' claims were "erroneous", adding that under EU rules he did not have to account for how he used the £60,000 of allowances he had received since 2009.
He said like all MEPs he was given a general allowance of £3,580 a month to spend "as I see fit" and he did not have to provide receipts.
Mr Farage accused the newspaper of "conflating" his EU allowances with the row over expenses claimed by MPs at Westminster, which he said was an entirely different matter.
He said: "I haven't bought a house or vintage wine."
Mr Farage told Dermot Murnaghan: "They are not expenses. We don't actually claim for anything. I have not claimed for an office. I have not claimed this figure of £15,000.
"The Times, who are the pro-establishment newspaper have deliberately tried to conflate the expenses row at Westminster, where people have been using taxpayers' money to buy houses and make large capital gains with the way the system works in the EU.
"I'm not defending the system, I want it to end but I get given, as does every other British MEP, £3,850, every month to spend in the UK and in my constituency as I see fit."
Mr Farage said there was a list of "expenses" and he could spend the money on newspapers, on books, hotel rooms and restaurants.
He added: "We do not have to provide any receipts, any explanation for how that money is spent so what The Times has written is wholly erroneous."
The Times quoted former office manager David Samuel-Camps as saying it only cost £3,000 a year to run Mr Farage's office, rather than the £1,000 the UKIP leader claims.
However, Mr Farage pointed out Mr Samuel-Camps had written to the newspaper complaining that he had been misquoted and stating it cost £8,400 a year to run the office - closer to Mr Farage's figure.
When asked what the allowance had been spent on, Mr Farage claimed the annual electricity bill was £3,000 - the average bill for a family home is only £1,000 - and said this was because of the machines.
He also said the money was spent on burglar alarms, insurance and dealing with his increasingly heavy postbag.
In a robust response to the newspaper story on the UKIP website the party claimed the story was politically motivated because of its success in polls over the weekend.