Independent MEP Nikki Sinclaire has become the first British Member of the European Parliament to receive a satisfactory auditor's report in respect of her expenditure in accordance with articles 25 to 28 of the Parliament's rules.
It looks likely that politician's expenses will become an issue in the forthcoming General Election, as they did in last year's euro-elections, which saw the main parties punished at the polling booths by voters. Ms Sinclaire has highlighted the lack of transparency amongst elected members of all the parties. "Despite all the media coverage, and the fact that criminal charges have been brought against the worst offenders, politicians still have not got the message", she said. "We are still seeing vague and incomplete declarations, politicians are still employing their wives and families, and despite the economic crisis they still go off on luxurious taxpayer-funded junkets".
The issue of politicians diverting allowances to their parties is also an issue that she feels needs to be addressed, and one which parliament and OLAF are known to be investigating. Ms Sinclaire has in fact raised a formal question with the EU Council of Ministers concerning money that she has personally identified as having been diverted from staff budgets and into UK party coffers.
The auditor's report shows that she has not only acted absolutely within the rules, and that she has not benefited personally from her expenditure allowances, but that she has also personally funded her activities on behalf of her constituents to the tune of more than £10,000.
Wednesday, 31 March 2010