UKIP faces ‘penniless’ future

The UK Independence party (Ukip) has been ordered by the Electoral Commission to forfeit donations worth £363,697.

The elections watchdog claims that the party has broken the law by accepting donations from a businessman whose name was not on the electoral roll.

However, Ukip has attacked the commission’s decision to confiscate the funds as “wholly disproportionate” and admitted that it puts its financial security at risk.

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act prohibits the receipt of funds from “impermissible donors”. Generally this refers to people or organisations that are not registered in the UK, but Ukip states the donation came from a UK donor who “forgot” to register to vote in 2005.

Ukip chairman John Whittaker said the party was guilty of a “simple clerical error which could have been easily rectified had it been known”.

He confirmed that the donor in question was a businessman who was a permanent UK resident and taxpayer who had simply forgotten to fill in the electoral register in 2005.

“I don’t believe the law was designed to catch out this sort of donor; it was intended to prevent dodgy overseas money being given to UK political parties,” said Mr Whittaker.

Ukip deny that they intended to breach the act and “regrets this error”. Party leader Nigel Farage said that they will now go to court to “vigorously defend” themselves.

Speaking to BBC News 24, Mr Farage admitted that the party does not have the money to hand, adding “I’m not entirely sure what we’re going to do to sort this out”.

Mr Farrage attacked the commission’s decision to confiscate the money as “wholly disproportionate” and claimed the party was being victimised.

“When you consider that at this time we have the government under investigation for the sale of honours, we’ve got the Liberal Democrats who received £2.4 million from someone who is now in prison, and what have the establishment done? They’ve come down like a tonne of bricks on the only party that receive no state funding whatsoever,” he said.