UKIP’s Janice Atkinson expelled from party over bogus expense claims

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UKIP MEP and general election candidate Janice Atkinson has been expelled for bringing the party into disrepute over allegations of bogus expense claims.

Ms Atkinson’s chief of staff Christine Hewitt has also been expelled, a party spokesman said.

It follows a newspaper investigation into an apparent expenses claim.

The South East MEP, who is standing in Folkestone and Hythe on 7 May, said she was “deeply disappointed” by the decision and would appeal.

In a statement, she added: “I was elected to represent the constituents of the south-east of England and I will continue to work tirelessly on their behalf and for the best interests of our country.”

UKIP leader Nigel Farage said he was “deeply shocked” over allegations Ms Atkinson’s chief of staff had attempted to defraud EU expenses in relation to a UKIP party in Margate.

Ms Hewitt was filmed by The Sun for allegedly obtaining an inflated bill from the pub where the event was held to claim back from Brussels.

In the footage, she appears to ask for an invoice for a much higher sum than the bill she had originally received.

Ms Hewitt is heard to say: “The idea is we overcharge them slightly, because that’s the way we repatriate it.”

A member of the hotel staff replies: “3,150, is that alright? Yeah, if you’re all right with that? Is that enough for you?”

Ms Hewitt then says: “Oh God yeah, that’s more than enough.”

It is not known whether Ms Atkinson knew or authorised her staff member’s apparent actions.

A UKIP spokesman said the two women had 14 days to appeal.

“Ms Atkinson no longer represents the UKIP in the European Parliament and she will no longer be a prospective parliamentary candidate for Folkestone and Hythe,” he added.

He declined to say how or when a new candidate would be chosen.

Ms Atkinson last month called for the role of Minister for Women and Equalities to be scrapped.

The MEP – who famously referred to an Asian woman as a “ting-tong from somewhere” – made the pledge in a speech to the Spring Party Conference in Margate.

In August 2013, Ms Atkinson criticised moves to legalise same-sex marriage, saying “I am quite traditional – I don’t believe in gay marriage”.

Speaking of voters in Sevenoaks, she added: “People here are against gay marriage – I have been to people’s houses talking to them.

“It’s not about equality it’s about making David Cameron look good.”