Leicester

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer denies EU cash misuse claims

Roger Helmer with Nigel Farage Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Roger Helmer (left) with Nigel Farage during the EU referendum in 2016

UKIP MEP Roger Helmer has denied claims he is retiring over demands to repay up to £100,000 for allegedly misusing EU funds.

The Guardian reports East Midlands MEP Mr Helmer improperly employed a full time UKIP party worker as an assistant.

But the 73-year-old denies the claims and said he had been thinking about retiring since 2011. He will stand down at the end of July.

The European Parliament said it would not comment on any individual cases.

Updates on this story and more from the East Midlands

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Helmer said he has not done anything wrong

It has been reported that the UKIP energy spokesman is facing a demand to pay about £100,000 of EU money for employing a party worker as his assistant, which is against parliament rules.

Mr Helmer, who stood as a UKIP candidate for South Leicestershire in the general election, said: "None of that is correct.

"Questions were raised about two of my UK employees back in February.

"I produced extensive dossiers in respect of both of them with solid evidence of the work they'd done - phone calls, emails, reports - and I've been waiting ever since for the [European] Parliament to respond."

When asked by the BBC about his resignation timing, Mr Helmer said his decision was made before polling day.

He said: "I think at the age of 73 I'm perfectly entitled to retire... I'd been thinking about it, I first mooted the idea in 2011.

"This week was the right time to make the announcement... I signed the papers on May 31st."

A European Parliament spokeswoman said she could not comment on Mr Helmer's case, but said money paid to an assistant must be for work relating to the member's mandate in the parliament.

She said the administration could reclaim funds if justifications and clarifications for the use of money are not forthcoming.

Mr Helmer has been an MEP for the East Midlands since 1999.

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