Ex-Ukip MEP faces misconduct charge
A former Ukip MEP has been charged with money laundering and misconduct in public office after an inquiry into her expense claims.
The Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) said Nikki Sinclaire, who lost her seat in the European Parliament earlier this year, had been charged with the offences by West Midlands Police.
A CPS spokesman said the offences were alleged to have been committed while the 45-year-old was a serving MEP for the West Midlands between October 2009 and July 2010.
Sinclaire lost her seat at May's European elections after leaving Ukip and standing for the We Demand A Referendum Now party.
Confirming details of the charges, a police spokesman said: "West Midlands Police's Economic Crime Unit has today formally charged former MEP Nicole Sinclaire with misconduct in public office and money laundering.
"Ms Sinclaire is due to appear at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on 17 September, where she will hear claims that she made false and dishonest submissions for travelling expenses and transferred the proceeds of fraud through a bank account in her name.
"The offences are alleged to have taken place between 1 October 2009 and 31 July 2010 when Ms Sinclaire was a serving Member of the European Parliament.
"Throughout the investigation West Midlands Police has been working jointly with officers from the European Anti-Fraud Office."
Sinclaire, who lives in Shirley, near Solihull, was originally arrested in February 2012 and has since been on police bail.
Three other members of the public were also arrested as part of the inquiry but will face no further action.
In a separate statement, Simon Orme, a specialist lawyer with the CPS Special Crime Division, said: "It is alleged that, between October 2009 and July 2010, whilst serving as an MEP, Ms Sinclaire used funds paid into her bank account by the European Parliament in respect of false travelling expenses claims.
"Ms Sinclaire has also been charged with misconduct in a public office with regard to her actions.
"The decision to prosecute was taken in accordance with the Code for Crown Prosecutors. We have determined that there is a realistic prospect of conviction and that a prosecution is in the public interest.
"Criminal proceedings have now commenced and Ms Sinclaire has the right to a fair trial. It is extremely important that there should be no reporting, commentary or sharing of information online which could in any way prejudice these proceedings."
In a statement, Ms Sinclaire said: "The charges relate to my time as a Ukip MEP when I was under the guidance and oversight by the party in the Parliament.
"This will prove pivotal in resolving the matter.
"During my time as an MEP I put in more than £120,000 of my salary into the cost of my work activities.
"It was also me who in 2010 drew the attention of the West Midlands Police to irregularities I discovered had taken place, without my knowledge, in my Ukip office.
"I strongly refute these charges and will be firmly defending myself. I am certain I shall be found innocent of these ludicrous and unfounded accusations."