EURO sceptics who set up a spoof organisation were shocked to find they were awarded European Union funding after making a bogus application.
Members of the UK Independence Party (UKIP) in Hartlepool created the Hartlepool & East Durham European Language and Culture Club in a bid to secure funding from an EU initiative to prove they were "wasting" taxpayers money.But they were shocked to discover that their application for £50 towards a European Day of Languages was accepted by Europe Direct North East, which is based within Durham County Council.Europe Direct North East had offered 20 £50 grants to schools, colleges, libraries, youth and community groups to help fund a European Day event.The application was approved in an email, but the scam was exposed before any cash was transferred.Bosses at Europe Direct North East say robust checks are carried out and claim concerns were quickly raised about the group.
The spoof application said the group had "60 language enthusiasts from 17 different
countries" who meet to study each other's language and history. They said they
hoped to attract between 500 and 1,000 people to a drop-in event later this month. They were also offered free bunting, maps and language booklets in the email.
But those behind the spoof say they would not have cashed the money if it was transferred.Dave Pascoe, a member of the Hartlepool UKIP branch, said: "The aim of the spoof was principally to expose Europe Direct as an institution which is wasting taxpayers money on EU propaganda."Also, one that is prepared to throw away taxpayers money willy nilly, without attempting to verify whether it is a bona-fide organisation in the first place."
Their application form, which asked for funding to cover costs, said the event would take place at the fictitious New Longscar Hall, at Seaton Carew.Mr Pascoe added: "In Durham, this equates to 20 amounts of £50, when the UK's net contribution to the EU is a staggering £18m per day, every day of the year."Truly staggering, that the EU still pretend that this money is a present from "those nice people in Brussels" and not our own money being recycled for the purposes of the EU propaganda."
Dorothy Gibson, Europe Direct North East manager, said: "A European Day of Languages grant, which amounts to £50, has not been paid to this applicant – nor will it be."
Although confirmation emails are sent out to applicants, robust checks are carried out and from a very early stage we had serious concerns about this application. "We have been waiting for the applicant to return from 'holiday' to raise those concerns with him and for him to allay our fears but in the meantime, we have contacted Durham County Council's fair trading officer about this seemingly scam applicant."
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