England

Fraud case MEP Ashley Mote 'targeted for being anti-EU'

Ashley Mote Image copyright PA
Image caption Ashley Mote sat as a South East England MEP between 2004 and 2009

A former MEP accused of claiming almost £500,000 in false European Parliament expenses has said he is being "targeted" for being anti-EU.

Ashley Mote, 79, is on trial at Southwark Crown Court for allegedly using fraudulent claims to pay people he says were "whistleblowers".

He sat as an independent MEP from 2004-2009 after being expelled from UKIP.

Mr Mote, from Hampshire, denies 11 charges including false accounting, fraud and acquiring criminal property.

Mr Mote, who was an MEP for South East England, said in court the claims he made were to pay whistleblowers in cash through third parties.

He said he would not give further details because he did not want to put those he paid at risk.

'Great risks'

When asked by prosecutor Jonathan Davies if there was any evidence of the payments Mr Mote replied: "Well I hope not, I went out of my way to ensure that there wasn't.

"I gave my word to the many individuals involved, some of them took great risks."

When it was suggested he had been using the sums for his "own personal purposes", he said: "I was targeted for being an anti-EU MEP."

Mr Mote claimed he spent years investigating the misuse of public expenses on behalf of the people of south east England.

He denies four counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception, three of false accounting, two of fraud, and one each of acquiring criminal property and concealing criminal property.

The offences allegedly took place between November 2004 and July 2010.

While an MEP Mr Mote claimed £750,000 in Parliamentary Assistance Allowance.

Mr Mote was elected as a UKIP MEP in 2004 but was expelled from the party before he took up his seat as he was being prosecuted by the Department for Work and Pensions for benefit fraud.

He continued as an independent MEP until 2009.

The trial continues.

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