Sinn Fein's £1.5m donor 'was forced out of Ireland'
Sinn Fein donor Billy Hampton had been forced out of Ireland under threat, one of his former friends has revealed.
The unmarried pensioner, who left £1.5m to the party when he died last year, spent his later years in an old mobile home in the Republic and in his father Ted's farmhouse in the Cambridgeshire village of Fenstanton.
Known there as Billy, former friends have now spoken out, with one claiming he fled Ireland under threat and that he was later beaten up outside his family home.
Don Joyce was good friends with Billy and his father Ted, who owned a potato wholesale company and a car dealership, and still lives a stone's throw from where the Hampton family's old farmhouse once stood.
He said that Billy, who died aged 82 at a nursing home in Pembrokeshire, told him one evening that he was forced to leave Ireland over an incident which he believed involved criminal activity. Billy was vague on details when he spoke to his neighbour but gave the clear impression he was "under threat" and had no choice but to flee.
"He was definitely threatened, he had to get out of Ireland quick," Mr Joyce said.
"He didn't tell me all the things but I knew he had to get out of Ireland quick and then he went back to Ireland which was a bit strange."
Mr Joyce claimed Billy was assaulted outside his family home in Fenstanton not long after he returned from Ireland on this particular occasion.
"He got beat up and put in hospital but I don't know who beat him up," he said. "Someone came on purpose. He must have been here six months to a year."
He did not know if "somebody followed him or mentioned it to somebody else" but said the attack "worried" him and Billy.
Mr Hampton died in January 2018 at a nursing home in Wales and left an estate of almost £2.6m, which included assets in Ireland, England, Singapore and New Zealand. He was unmarried and had no children.
Investigative journalist Paul Halloran was left £1,000 in the will. He said he doesn't know what links Mr Hampton had to Sinn Fein.
"I had no inkling that he even knew how to spell Sinn Fein. He didn't come to see me to talk about that. He came to me to talk about being persecuted by accountants," he said.
He said Mr Hampton believed the firm that was dealing with his father's business interests were after him, although he determined that there was nothing to the allegations.