Lynnda Robson, aide to Gerard Batten, on UKIP’s MEP selection process.
Lynnda Robson is a stalwart member of UKIP, an excellent researcher and a valuable aide to Gerard Batten MEP. She recently took UKIP to court over the MEP selection process.
Here is her excellent letter to UKIP’s NEC:
I am writing about numerous breaches of the Rules for Candidates by three candidates in London. One of them is Ralph Atkinson, but I will not go into details as I know Gerard Batten has already informed you about his activities.The other two are Marta Andreassen and Tim Worstall who I believe should be disqualified from this election. I am aware that Marta has decided to run in SE Region but believe that she should be disqualified in London and her votes reallocated since she was not entitled to them. This is quite a long email, I'm afraid, but there are an awful lot of rules being broken.
The reasons I believe they have both breached the rules are as follows:
1. Eligibility (external, under Electoral Commission Rules)
Under Section 4, Becoming a Candidate, of its European Parliamentary Election Rules, Elcom says that candidates must be:
A British citizen.... or a citizen of another member state who is resident in the UK or Gibraltar during the nomination period.
Both Marta and Tim are clearly not UK residents. When asked about this at the London hustings Marta airily replied she was 'addressing' this issue. Some people I spoke to afterwards interpreted this (possibly cynically, but in the light of recent developments perhaps not) as roughly meaning ' if I get a high place on the list I will find an accommodation address in the UK for the minimum time necessary to meet Elcom criteria'. Tim has apparently said he will move back to the UK 'soon'. Seems odd since he is reportedly a tax exile who can only spend 183 days in the UK and he is building a house in Portugal for himself and his family and they are currently all resident there.
Christopher Gill's response to this was that he had not bothered to consult Elcom or check its rules as this was an internal election - unbelievable!
One would hope that UKIP will not be a party to any breach of certainly the spirit, if not the letter, of the Electoral Commission rules but according to Christopher Gill: 'At a later stage all candidates will of course have to comply with whatever electoral legislation is then in force or otherwise be disqualified from standing' which seems to confirm the cynics' idea that an accommodation address will be found for them for the minimum amount of time necessary.
2. Eligibility (internal, under UKIP rules)
Under its constitution UKIP restricts full membership to UK citizens and resident foreign nationals. It also requires its Parliamentary candidates to be fully paid-up members in good standing.
Marta could therefore not possibly be a full member at the time her nomination was made and must therefore be ineligible.
Christopher Gill says she is an Associate Member but cannot tell me exactly how many other Associate members we have in the Party and indeed how many of them there were before Marta was given this (possibly) unique status.
Certainly nowhere on the membership application form is there an option to become an Associate Member. The UKIP constitution also states (16.4) 'All parliamentary candidates must be paid-up members of the Party in good standing...' - no mention of associate members there, I see.
3. Same Proposer
Marta and Tim had the same proposer - Lord Pearson. This is expressly forbidden but Christopher Gill has told me categorically he is not prepared to take any action as he felt 'Lord P. was only being helpful'! Apparently breaking rules is OK if it is Lord P. doing it for Marta and Tim!
4. CRB checks
All candidates were mandated to have a full, advanced CRB check (not something vaguely similar in another country, but the full UK version). Indeed, £41 of the £250 deposit was for this purpose. So important are these checks considered to be when identifying suitable candidates that the London Assembly candidates list was delayed for two months last year because of the requirement by the leadership, at a late stage, for all candidates to have these checks. You will all recall Nigel Farage stressing the importance of these checks and saying that if we had them in place in 2004 they would have picked up Ashley Mote's transgressions - therefore it was imperative that all candidates must have them in 2008.
But to have a CRB check you need a UK address at which you reside and for which you can produce utility bills. Once again neither Tim (who I believe can only spend a certain amount of days in the UK, which would indicate he is non-resident for tax purposes) nor Marta (who lives in Barcelona) would have been able to obtain a UK advanced CRB check as neither is resident in the UK. Why was an exception made for them?
Very odd reply from CG to this one 'Marta has never made any attempt to hide the fact that she lives in Barcelona'!! and 'Tim lives in Bath'. However, TW told me that although he owns a flat in Bath this was rented out and he was living in Portugal with his family.
5. Candidates standing in more than one Region
It was clearly required that candidates make it clear, both at the hustings and by other means, if they are standing in more than one Region. Marta certainly didn't mention it at the London Hustings, nor is it in her published candidate details. Many of these members who might otherwise vote for a certain candidate would be far less inclined to do so if they knew he/she actually considered our Region second best.
Christopher Gill's response was: 'The point you make about declaring an interest in another region is well made - in a message to all MEP Interview Panel Chairmen dated 10th July David Challice highlighted the fact that the onus was upon candidates to publicly disclose if they were standing in more than one region. This instruction seems to have been ignored in at least one other region to my certain knowledge and will feature in my report'.
What use is 'featuring in his report' going to be? The damage has been done and another rule broken.
I know that the fact the shortlists were published on the UKIP website should apparently have enabled members to do some detective work and identify who was standing in more than one Region - but again this does not seem to comply with the spirit of the rule or why it was made, as very few of our members ever look at the website, let alone delve deeply into the members section, and I doubt one in a thousand of our 'ordinary' members, as opposed to those of us more involved with the Party, is aware of multi-region candidates.
6. Electoral Roll number
All candidates were required to give their UK electoral roll number on the application form. Unless they have given a false address, neither of these candidates can possibly be on the UK electoral register.
Christopher Gill acknowledges this is a problem for MA which should have been noticed and addressed earlier, although he contends that TW is a UK resident (wonder if HMRC know this?) but again refuses to take any action.
From this litany you will realise why many of us are extremely sceptical about the validity of these two candidates. At every turn it would appear that exceptions and accommodations are being made, and rules broken and ignored, to get them on, and keep them on, the candidate lists. I would appreciate a full explanation of why they were exempted from the stringent criteria that the rest of us had to comply with in order to be considered and would ask the NEC to disqualify both of them.
To paraphrase George Orwell: 'Why are some candidates more equal than others?' I am absolutely sure that if when I had applied I had said :
I'm not a UK resident
I'm not a fully paid-up member of UKIP
I can't get a CRB check
My proposer has also proposed someone else
I'm not on the UK electoral Register; and
I have no intention of mentioning I will be standing in two Regions
I believe I would have been very firmly rejected - and rightly so.
Such chicanery will not play well with Elcom or our other enemies in the media and the community at large. And there are a number of people already aware of these facts, and upset about them. Indeed some of these questions have already been asked on the Democracy Forum - whose members number many who most certainly do not wish us well - so are thus in the public domain . This really could badly damage our chances in the 2009 elections and we should not be putting ourselves in this position.
I would formally ask the NEC to disqualify these two candidates from standing in London Region.
Please do not think I have anything personal against Marta - on the contrary, my limited acquaintance with her has always been a pleasure. And Tim seems a personable sort of fellow. But rules are being broken and distorted to keep these two candidates on the list and this is simply WRONG.I have already informed Christopher Gill that should this request be ignored then I wish to withdraw from the London list, and whilst I will do everything to ensure Gerard is elected I will not campaign or fund-raise if Atkinson, Andreassen or Worstall remain on the List.
I have also told him that I want my £250 returned as this has obviously been taken from me under false pretences. The false pretext in this case being that all candidates would be treated equally and subject to the same rules, which is patently not the case.
End of letter.
After being sued in the Court for the return of her £250 deposit UKIP paid her the money, plus costs. However, they refused to admit liability and said that they were returning her deposit “as a gesture of goodwill”.
This is, of course, complete nonsense. UKIP returned the deposit because Lynnda asked for documents, including a copy of Marta Andreasen’s application form and a copy of her £250 cheque and CRB documentation. It is thought these may not have existed in a form which would have satisfied the Electoral Commission or UKIP’s Constitution.
It is also thought that Tim Worstall’s application form would have proved interesting reading since he is a tax exile living in Portugal and, therefore, cannot be a full member of UKIP, legally pay his £250 donation OR get a CRB check.
Failure to produce these documents would have proved very damaging for UKIP as it would have called into doubt the whole selection process. This is something Farage could not risk as it would have raised too many awkward questions about the manipulation of the lists and the favouritism shown to certain candidates.
Needless to say the NEC have rejected all her complaints. For instance, Christopher Gill, despite showing clear incompetence in his handling of the whole MEP selection process, remains a trusted member of the Farage clique.
Lynnda has now resigned from the London MEP list. She remains a member of UKIP and continues to work for Gerard in his London office.