UK Independence Party leader and European Parliament Member Nigel Farage today accepted a public apology and damages from The Sunday Times at London’s High Court, after the paper accused him of using EU funds to pay his son as an assistant, in a case it claimed was similar to that of MP Derek Conway.
Farage, the MEP for South East England, sued over the article printed on 24 February 2008 in which he was branded a hypocrite who had criticised other MEPs for exploiting the EU gravy train, and likened to MP Derek Conway, who was suspended from the House of Commons for employing his son as a political researcher using taxpayers’ money. The paper said that Farage’s son was, like Conway’s, paid while in full time education.
Mr Farage’s solicitor, Andrew Stephenson, told Justice David Eady today that the article was headlined ‘Anti-Brussels MEP pays son from EU funds’.
He said: ‘The article alleged that the claimant had employed his son to work as his assistant, paying him out of taxpayers’ money while he was in full-time education. The article likened the situation to hat of the MP, Derek Conway, who had been suspended from the House of Commons.
‘The suggestion made was that the claimant is a hypocrite, who condemned other MEPs for exploiting the EU ‘gravy train’ while grossly abusing the system himself by using public funds to employ his own son.”
He continued: ‘The defendant accepts that there is in fact no foundation to the allegation that Mr Farage used taxpayers money to employ his son, and therefore the comparison drawn in the article with the case of Derek Conway MP and the charge of hypocrisy was misconceived.”
He said that publishers Times Newspapers had now agreed to pay Farage damages and his legal costs.
Gillian Phillips, for Times Newspapers, added: ‘The defendant offers its apologies to Mr Farage and is pleased to set the record straight.”