MEP convicted over £70,000 benefits
A British member of the European Parliament (MEP) has been found guilty of 21 charges of deception by falsely claiming benefits.
Ashley Mote, 71, a former Ukip representative, was found guilty of eight charges of false accounting, eight of obtaining a money transfer by deception, four of evading liability and one of failing to notify a change of circumstances.
The MEP for south east England was acquitted at Portsmouth Crown Court of a further four charges in the case brought by the Department of Work and Pensions.
The four-week trial heard that Mote ran a successful business which collapsed in 1989. He then began to claim income support, housing benefits and council tax benefits but failed to notify the benefits agency when he began earning money through various enterprises, including spread betting on currency markets during the period of February 1996 and September 2002, during which period he received £73,000 in benefits.
The court heard he used this money to pay off credit card debts which he had run up funding an "extravagant lifestyle" such as restaurant dinners, private health care and holidays to the US, France and the Caribbean.
The married father of two was elected to the European Parliament in 2004 as a member of Ukip which threw him out of the party just days later when they discovered the charges against him. He has continued to serve as an independent MEP.
Responding to the verdict Ukip leader Nigel Farage said in a statement: "We are pleased that finally justice has been done.
"Mr Mote lied to Ukip on his application form to be an MEP candidate. If we had discovered just 48 hours earlier that this case was pending he would never have been elected an MEP.
"Subsequent to our discovering the truth Mr Mote was immediately removed from the party and never took his seat as a Ukip MEP.
Ukip and the voters of the south east have been defrauded for three years by Mr Mote."