The leader of UKIP is facing investigation by EU authorities over links to a dodgy donations scandal which allegedly saw a political group he runs fraudulently claim huge sums of money from European taxpayers.
Heat Street can reveal that Paul Nuttall, who was chosen to succeed Nigel Farage last week, was also president of a Eurosceptic think-tank which has been targeted in the official probe.
Senior investigators are so sure that his group is at fault that they are pushing to deny them €89,000 of promised public funding.
Until recently Nuttall led the Initiative for Direct Democracy in Europe (IDDE), which distributes funds to Eurosceptic parties across the continent, a position he took over in 2015.
The IDDE was recently named by a European Parliament watchdog as one of two organisations allegedly trying to circumvent EU funding rules to get their hands on more funding.
And according to new documents passed to Heat Street, and reproduced in full below, investigators suspect that the IDDE secured illicit donations from sympathetic businessmen in return for lucrative contracts.
The cash was allegedly necessary to meet a threshold for EU funding which requires groups like the IDDE to get 15% of its revenue from other sources.
The revelations will prove a headache for Nuttall, coming so soon after he took the helm of a party rocked by successive scandals and defections since Nigel Farage stepped down in the wake of the UK’s Brexit referendum.
A spokesman for the IDDE said: “Paul Nuttall is not the IDDE President. He resigned when he began the Leadership race.”
The group has so far declined to comment on the specifics of the case.
The full documents revealing the scope of the investigation – and the recommendation that the EU withhold further funding from IDDE – are reproduced here in full: