Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein's £1.5m donor lived in mobile home

Mechanic was 'of no fixed abode' when he wrote will

Mr William E Hampton
Mr William E Hampton
Labour MP Dennis Skinner received £1,000 from Mr Hampton
Ralph Hewitt

By Ralph Hewitt

A mechanic who left Sinn Fein £1.5m was living in a mobile home in Ireland when he made his will.

William E Hampton was "of no fixed abode" when he bequeathed the money - the largest ever known donation to a Northern Ireland political party.

When he died in January 2018, he left an estate of almost £2.6m.

New details about Mr Hampton have emerged after a copy of his will was obtained by the Belfast Telegraph.

Mr Hampton died in January 2018, aged 82. As part of his instructions, which he wrote in 1997, £1,000 was each given to Labour MP Dennis Skinner and Private Eye investigative journalist Paul Halloran.

Another £6,000 was donated to two English residents.

The remainder of his estate, which included assets in Ireland, England, Singapore and New Zealand, 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.

Their address is listed as 44 Parnell Square, which is the party's headquarters in Dublin.

It was outlined in Mr Hampton's will that the money was to be used to cover election expenses, to fund Sinn Fein offices and advice centres, and to aid republican prisoners and their families in both Ireland and Britain.

Mr Hampton's will stated: "In the event that the organisation which is now known as Sinn Fein should cease to be in existence or should have split or taken a different name at the date of death then I direct that my executors and trustees are to apply my monies to the political party to which Mr Gerry Adams MP then belongs."

"Should Mr Adams pre-decease me or not be a member of any political party at the date of my death then I direct that my executors and trustees shall apply my monies to the republican or nationalist political party in the six counties, other than the SDLP, which has the largest number of elected councillors."

Mr Hampton's donation was made public on Thursday by the Electoral Commission.

A Probate Registry of Wales document confirms that when he died on January 11, 2018, at a nursing home in Pembrokeshire, Mr Hampton left an estate in the UK worth £2,599,605.

However, at the time of writing his will in 1997, he was living in a mobile home in Ireland. He states in it that he is "presently of no fixed abode".

It states he had former addresses in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire. The pensioner, who was unmarried and had no children, was born in London and was a long-term supporter of Sinn Fein.

Mr Hampton's will and probate document, as in the case of any deceased person, are available for public inspection. The donation to Sinn Fein was paid to the party in instalments of £1m and £500,000 in April and May this year.

The size of the UK estate and the mention of other global assets means that Sinn Fein may yet be in line for further donations from Mr Hampton.

Under HM Revenue & Customs rules, Sinn Fein will not have to pay any inheritance tax on the £1.5m gift as any political party that has at least two MPs in the House of Commons is not liable to do so.

Sinn Fein has seven MPs but because of a Westminster abstentionist policy they do not take their seats in the house.

A political party also qualifies for exemption if it has one MP and received no less than 150,000 votes at the last general election. Without exemptions, anyone who is left £1.5m would be required to pay around £470,000 in inheritance tax.

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