Transgender ex-MEP Nikki Sinclaire in court over expenses fraud charges

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The UK’s first transgender parliamentary politician is on trial over allegations of expenses fraud.

Nikki Sinclaire was elected as a UK Independence Party MEP for the West Midlands in 2009.

She was expelled from UKIP in 2010 after making allegations of racism and sexism – but continued to serve as an MEP, in 2013 launching the ‘We Demand a Referendum’ alongside controversial columnist Katie Hopkins.

Ms Sinclaire came out as transgender in November 2013, but has faced police anti-fraud investigations over expenses irregularities – facing allegations of money laundering, and misconduct in public office over suspicion of conspiracy to defraud the European Parliament. She lost her seat in 2014.

The politician appeared in Birmingham Crown Court today, where she denied charges of misconduct and money laundering from the period 2009-2010 – dating back to her time as an MEP for UKIP.

Prosecutor Antonie Muller claimed to the jury that Ms Sinclaire “made or caused to be made false and dishonest claims for travelling expenses” while serving as an MEP.

He added that she “transferred or converted criminal property, namely the proceeds of fraud into her bank account”.

Ms Sinclaire denies the charges.

Judge Stephen Eyre QC cautioned the jury: “This is not a trial about politics, this is a trial about a particular event at a particular time and the intentions about certain things that were done.

“Whether you agree or disagree with the defendant’s politics is irrelevant.”

Ms Sinclaire said in a statement: “I worked tirelessly in my role as an MEP to serve my constituents and am devastated that I have had to face these allegations.

“My life has been blighted by the case which, through no fault of my making, has taken far too long to resolve.

“Thankfully, I finally have the opportunity clear my name and rebuild my life.”

The trial continues. Comments have been disabled for legal reasons.