A former Ukip MEP for the South East England constituency – which included Bucks, Milton Keynes and Oxfordshire – who cheated almost £500,000 in European Parliament expenses has been jailed for five years.
Ashley Mote, 79, submitted bogus claims for his parliamentary allowance, which was supposed to be for work that organisations had carried out on his behalf.
He used the money to fund his court battles in the UK after he was prosecuted for a previous benefits fraud.
The politician dishonestly obtained approximately 355,000 euro and £184,000 of allowances to which he was not entitled.
Mote, of Binsted, Hampshire, was sentenced to a total of five years imprisonment at Southwark Crown Court today.
Mr Justice Stuart Smith said Mote had “lied, protested, lied and lied again” during his trial.
He said: “Your greed and dishonesty were matched only by your hypocrisy because while this was going on you carried out a high profile campaign condemning corruption and the improper use of public money in the very institution from which you were leeching it.”
He continued: “You knew perfectly well what the rules were for the claiming of expenses and you also knew perfectly well that what you were doing had nothing to do with funding whistleblowers and everything to do with funding your bridging loan, your mortgage, your legal expenses that were unrelated to your role as an MEP.
“You abused your position of trust as an elected representative and you abused the trust that the European Parliament placed in you, consistently making false statements in the knowledge that the institutions trusted their MEPs to be reliable and honest.
“Along the way you deceived people who shared your declared political ideals and even considered you to be something of a political hero.
“You are, as was said by the trial judge when you were convicted of substantial benefits fraud in 2007, a thoroughly dishonest man.
“The consistency of your dishonesty is breathtaking.”
Mr Justice Smith said: “As you came to towards the end of your time as an MEP you decided to milk what you saw as your cash cow to the limit.”
Mote was convicted at trial of four counts of obtaining a money transfer by deception, three of false accounting, two of fraud, and one each of acquiring criminal property, concealing criminal property and theft. The offences took place between November 2004 and July 2010.
Mote was allowed to sit in the back of court because of hearing problems.
Mr Justice Smith said: “When all is said and done, what stands out is the consistency of your dishonesty over nearly five years, the financial scale of your fraud, the rank abuse of the trust that was placed in you by your constituents and the European Parliament, and the financial and reputational damage you have done to the democratic institutions you said you were trying to clean up.”
He told Mote that the sentence was reduced to five years because of his age.