Belfast Telegraph

Jim Allister writes to National Crime Agency over £1.5m Sinn Fein donation

Jim Allister
Jim Allister
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

TUV leader Jim Allister has written to the National Crime Agency about a £1.5m donation left to Sinn Fein in the Will of an English mechanic.

It emerged last week that the party received the gift, thought to be the largest political donation in Northern Ireland history, from William E Hampton.

Mr Hampton was born in London but died in his home in Wales at the age of 82 in January 2018, leaving an estate worth £2.6m.

The majority of the estate was handed to the executors and trustees of his will- Joe Cahill and Dessie Mackin- for Sinn Fein.

At the time Mr Cahill and Mr Mackin were the party's national treasurers.

Mr Hampton worked as a mechanic but was "of no fixed abode" when he bequeathed the money.

In a letter to Lynne Owens, NCA director general, Mr Allister asked if her agency was investigating the source of the funds.

He said: "As appears from the said Will, apart from specific bequests of £8,000, all of the above residue is gifted to Sinn Fein, with prominent Sinn Fein personnel named as executors, who in turn will have applied for Probate.

"At or about the time when the will was made the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was on record as describing Sinn Fein as being 'inextricably linked' with the IRA.

"In circumstances where decades of illegal activity, including bank robberies, accumulated ill gotten gains for the IRA, I’d expect the NCA to be interested as to how such 'assets' might be laundered.

"Is the Agency satisfied there is nothing untoward in respect of the aforesaid enrichment of Sinn Fein?"

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Mr William E Hampton

Speaking on Radio Ulster, Mr Allister said: "The fact that the acquisition of these assets is unexplained, that they stand somewhat in contradiction with the apparent lifestyle of the individual, and the fact that on hand there is Sinn Fein to provide executors for this Will from within IRA ranks at the time, and that all of the assets are bestowed upon Sinn Fein, those are circumstances that raise legitimate questions.

"It seems to me, the appropriate authority to investigate all of that is the National Crime Agency and that is why I have written to the director of the National Crime Agency today."

When the Belfast Telegraph approached Sinn Fein for comment, a spokesperson replied: "Lol (Laugh out loud)."

A Sinn Fein spokesman has previously said that Mr Hampton came from a wealthy family background.

An Electoral Commission spokesperson told the Belfast Telegraph that they were not planning to investigate the donation.

"We are not investigating the donation received by Sinn Fein from Mr Hampton. The donation reported by the party was permissible as the donor was on a UK electoral roll within the five-year period prior to his death," the spokesperson said.

"Political parties must report all donations and loans over £7,500 if accepted by the central party and over £1,500 if accepted by an accounting unit.

"Political parties must only accept donations from permissible donors. It is the responsibility of political parties to check the permissibility of the donations they receive and to ensure they have systems in place to maintain their compliance with the law."

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