The Electoral Commission has opened an investigation into donations received by Ukip

 
Emma Haslett
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Ukip may be in hot water over donations it received from European parties (Source: Getty)

It's only Tuesday, but this week has already been a rollercoaster ride of emotions for Ukip.

After one former leader resigned and another was the subject of a bizarre diplomatic (or "twiplomatic") intervention by Donald Trump, now the Electoral Commission has formally opened an investigation into allegations it misspent EU money.

In a statement today the Electoral Commission said it wanted to ascertain whether Ukip used "impermissible" donations from the Europe-based Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE), and its affiliated foundation the Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe (IDDE).

Although both parties are eligible for grant funding from the EU for up to 85 per cent of their expenditures, that cash can't be used to fund parties at national level (like Ukip) - either directly or indirectly.

After an audit of both the ADDE and the IDDE, the European Parliament has already suggested they used their funding to help Ukip out.

Now the Electoral Commission says it's looking into whether Ukip breached UK election law by accepting impermissible donations - anything with a value of over £500.

Parties are supposed to record the donations and loans they receive and check they're from a "permissible source" (in short, organisations and individuals registered in the UK).

If Ukip is found to have transgressed, the Commission has civil sanctioning powers, and can issue a fine of up to £20,000 per breach it identifies. Given the £500,000 black hole Ukip discovered in its finances last year, that could be a problem.

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