A FORMER UKIP MEP cleared of expenses fraud has criticised police for leading a ‘vanity case’ against her, costing the taxpayer an alleged £1.5million to recoup just £3,200.
Nikki Sinclaire, who represented the West Midlands until 2014, was unanimously cleared by a trial jury of misconduct in a public office and laundering money.
The 47-year-old politician has called it “the only just verdict”, and claimed investigators relied on as many as ten incorrect allegations dating back to October 2009.
Ms Sinclaire, from Shirley, had been accused of fiddling £3,200 in European parliamentary expenses claims and laundering the cash.
Throughout her two-week trial she had admitted personal negligence in not checking claims made up to July 2010, but alleged her expenses had been ‘deliberately corrupted’ by former office aide John Ison.
The court heard he gave details to UKIP leader Nigel Farage.
Mr Ison had admitted in court sending a message to another party about Ms Sinclaire, which read: “Ok, Plan B – fraud.”
The jury at Birmingham Crown Court also heard there had been at atmosphere of “hostility” between Ms Sinclaire and Mr Farage.
Outside Birmingham Crown Court Ms Sinclaire said: “I would like to thank the jury for their unanimous verdict of not guilty.
“It could be the only just verdict on the facts presented to the court.
“I was arrested more than four years ago and that unnecessary event has blighted my political career and, more importantly, my life. I now welcome the opportunity to move forward.
“In times of police cutbacks I find it incredible that, on the say so of one embittered man, West Midlands police spent I believe in possibly in excess of £1.5million chasing a vanity case of £3,200.”
West Midlands Police did not comment on the cost of the inquiry and stated it would need to be made subject to a freedom of information request.