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Duncan Flynn, who has worked in the European Parliament for a Conservative MEP, believes that the Ashley Mote affair is yet another example of the EU’s unwillingness to face up to fraud.

The
recent jailing of the obscure South East of England MEP Ashley Mote
barely registered a few column inches amid the daily speculation in the
UK media concerning a potential imminent General Election. However,
this should not conceal the fact that a democratically elected
politician who represents Britain in Brussels and Strasbourg and
collects a salary of over £60,000 plus generous expenses courtesy of
the UK taxpayer is now languishing in prison for nine months and yet is
still, incredibly, permitted to continue as an MEP. This means that
Mote continues to receive a handsome benefits package and will be able
to resume his political career once his custodial sentence is
completed.

For the record, Mote, who was expelled from UKIP
and now sits with the Far Right Identity, Sovereignty and Tradition
grouping
in the European Parliament (which includes such luminaries as
Jean Marie Le Pen and Alessandra Mussolini), was found guilty at
Portsmouth Crown Court of twenty one separate charges of falsely
claiming benefits of more than £65,000 from his local council. Despite
the fact that Mote will palpably not be able to represent his several
million constituents from his prison cell, the European Union have
decreed that only MEPs who receive a custodial sentence in excess of
twelve months can be removed from office.

It is easy to
dismiss the Mote affair as a personal tragedy for a political nonentity
who will no doubt be defeated should he have the audacity to seek
re-election in 2009, however his lenient treatment by the European
Union authorities represents the latest example of the European Union’s
failure to confront fraud and corruption.

After the
resignation of the entire Santer Commission following allegations of
rampant corruption in March 1999, we were promised a new era of
financial accountability and transparency. Sadly, this proved to be an
empty gesture as demonstrated by the hounding of Marta Andreasen, the
erstwhile Chief Accountant to the European Commission, who was sacked
following her exposure of the unreliability of the Commission’s
accounts. The treatment of Marta Andreasen exemplified the reluctance
of the European Union to face up to the lack of probity in their
accounting practices. Thankfully, courageous whistleblowers such as
Marta Andreasen have been supported by Conservative MEPs, most notably
Chris Heaton Harris who tirelessly raised her story in the British
media. However, despite this pressure exerted on the European Union
hierarchy, the Court of Auditors has refused to sign off on the
European Commission’s accounts for twelve consecutive years. Just
imagine what the reaction would be if these were the accounts of a
private corporate entity?

Therefore, it was no great surprise
that the European Union has failed to remove from its midst a man who
has been convicted of, amongst other offences, eight charges of false
accounting. In the light of the Ashley Mote affair it is time the
European Union faces up to its responsibilities in tackling fraud and
ensures that any MEP convicted of similar offences in the future is
automatically removed from office. Hopefully it will then seek to get
its own accounting in order. 

15 comments for: Duncan Flynn: The Ashley Mote affair shames the whole European Union

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