Former Ukip MEP Nicole Sinclaire faces charges of misconduct and money laundering
A former Ukip MEP has been charged with money-laundering and misconduct in public office after an inquiry into her expenses claims.
Nicole Sinclaire was first questioned about her expenses in 2012 but was only yesterday charged by the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
A spokesman for the CPS said the offences were alleged to have been committed while the 45-year-old was a serving MEP for the West Midlands between October 2009 and July 2010.
Ms Sinclair, who was born a man but had gender reassignment surgery when she was 23, once stood for the Ukip leadership but was expelled from the party after she refused to sit with a far-right Italian party in the European Parliament which was allied to Ukip.
She later won a claim of sex discrimination against the party but lost her seat at May’s European elections after standing for her own We Demand A Referendum Now party.
Confirming details of the charges, a police spokesman said: “West Midlands Police’s economic crime unit has today formally charged former MEP Nicole Sinclaire with misconduct in public office and money-laundering.
“Ms Sinclaire is due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates’ Court on 17 September, where she will hear claims that she made false and dishonest submissions for travelling expenses and transferred the proceeds of fraud through a bank account in her name.
“Throughout the investigation, West Midlands Police has been working jointly with officers from the European Anti-Fraud Office.”
Ms Sinclaire was originally arrested in February 2012 and has since been on police bail. Three other members of the public were also arrested as part of the inquiry but will face no further action.
In a statement, Ms Sinclaire appeared to suggest that Ukip was responsible for the way in which her European Parliamentary allowances were spent. She said: “The charges relate to my time as a Ukip MEP when I was under the guidance and oversight by the party in the Parliament. This will prove pivotal in resolving the matter.
“During my time as an MEP I put in more than £120,000 of my salary into the cost of my work activities. It was also me who in 2010 drew the attention of the West Midlands Police to irregularities I discovered had taken place, without my knowledge, in my Ukip office.
“I strongly refute these charges and will be firmly defending myself. I am certain I shall be found innocent of these ludicrous and unfounded accusations.”
Simon Orme, a specialist lawyer with the CPS Special Crime Division, said: “The decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors.We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction.”
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