The chairman of the Caerphilly branch of UKIP has been named in a report alleging that European Union money was misspent by UKIP.
Sam Gould, who stood for the party in the 2015 General Election and this year’s Assembly election, is reported to have received €25,000 in European Union funding between June and September last year.
The payment was made via the European political group the Alliance for Direct Democracy in Europe (ADDE) – founded by UKIP leader Nigel Farage and dominated by the party’s MEPs.
According to a European Parliament audit report, leaked to Sky News and The Guardian, the ADDE broke rules because the funding, part of €500,615 (£430,486) given to UKIP, had to be spent on European Parliamentary business.
Instead, the cash was used to fund opinion polls for UKIP during the 2015 General Election and the 2016 Assembly elections.
There is no suggestion Mr Gould was aware the money was being misspent.
Following the leaked audit’s wide-reporting in the media, the UK’s Electoral Commission is looking into the matter.
In a statement, the watchdog said: “The commission has now opened its own investigation into UKIP to look at whether there has been any breach of UK election law. This includes whether any impermissible donations have been accepted by the party.
“Donations and loans to political parties are regulated under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000. A donation is money, goods or services given to a political party without charge or on non-commercial terms, with a value of over £500.
“Parties must record the donations and loans they receive, check they are from a permissible source, and report certain donations and loans to the Electoral Commission.
“If donations and loans are not from a permissible source, a party has thirty days to return the donation and must report the impermissible donation to the commission.”
Mr Gould, who was UKIP’s Welsh campaign manager, described the European Parliament’s stance over the money as “sour grapes”.
He said: “If my wife employed a builder to do work and the builder each month gave a report on the work and I gave it a read and said that’s fine, and then the builder subsequently stood for election and beats me, would I moan about it? And then would I go to my wife and do the same?
“That would be inappropriate and would be sour grapes. That’s the same thing that’s happening here.”
He added: “There is nothing to it – I’ve got nothing to hide.”
A spokesman for the ADDE said: “The parliament administration has for months taken an aggressive and hostile attitude over the audit, amounting to nothing short of deliberate harassment. This is a blatant deviation to its requested neutrality.
“We have responded to their queries with a mass of information and explanation justifying our activities and expenditure. They have simply ignored our submissions and in several cases these submissions having been made repeatedly on their request.
“We are therefore confident that our expenditures – with the exception of a few minor items – are fully eligible and compliant to EU regulations. They are also in line with fully accepted activities from other groups.
“We will be taking this matter to the European Court of Justice.”