Former Brexit Party candidate to take legal action over ‘unpaid’ expenses

Paul Bullen will be standing as an Independent Brexiteer candidate in Huntingdon

Paul Bullen will be standing as an Independent Brexiteer candidate in Huntingdon - Credit: Archant

A dumped former Brexit Party candidate is set to take the party to court over a £600 bill for money he spent preparing to contest a seat in the forthcoming general election.

Angry Paul Bullen, 61, from Little Stukeley, was one of more than 300 candidates axed after Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage announced that they would no longer fight seats held by the Tories.

The unexpected Brexit Party move was out of fears that they could split the leave vote and cost the Conservatives a majority at next month's general election, leading to a second Brexit referendum.

Mr Bullen, a former leader of the collapsed UKIP group on Cambridgeshire County Council, had been the Brexit Party's candidate for North East Cambridgeshire but now plans to contest the Huntingdon seat, which was held by Conservative Jonathan Djanogly, as an independent brexiteer.

Now, he has started proceedings against the Brexit Party in the county court.

Mr Bullen, a retired RAF officer, wrote to the party on November 12 giving it seven days to repay his costs which amount to nearly £600.

He said in his letter that he was one of the party's candidates dropped from fighting Tory seats.

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"I, along with a large number of other candidates, was told at a meeting on Peterborough on August 21, 2019, that all of my expenses would be paid by the Brexit Party with immediate effect," he wrote.

"I put you on notice that, to date, my expenses have been £435.15 plus £100 candidate's fee, plus travel to London for interview of £54.30 which equals £589.45. Please note that I am not, at this moment in time, claiming for any loss of income incurred whilst acting as a candidate of the Brexit Party."

Mr Bullen said: "It is my money and I want it for my campaign."

He felt the decision to drop more than 300 candidates, rather than risk a second Brexit referendum, had been handled badly: "If we had had a meeting where we were told what was going to happen and why we probably have gone along with it.

"I am very angry, a lot of us are."

Mr Bullen said he had done a lot of hard work preparing for the election and fighting North East Cambridgeshire against the Conservative's Stephen Barclay, who was Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, saying Mr Barclay was a supporter of the prime minister's "surrender" deal which did not amount to a true Brexit.

"North East Cambridgeshire, we could have won that seat," he said.

Mr Bullen also felt he could win in his home town of Huntingdon where, he said, Mr Djanogly had been a remainer who had tried to frustrate Brexit.

He said the Brexit Party's decision to drop its candidates would have been more understandable if it had continued to fight on against Conservatives like Mr Djanogly and Mr Barclay.

Mr Bullen, a semi-retired marine engineer, said it cost in the region of £16,000 to contest a seat with political party backing and probably more as an independent, so the money would be useful in his campaign.

A Brexit Party spokesman said: "I can confirm that all candidates were told, in two separate e-mails, that they should submit their expenses claims by the last Tuesday of the month and their expenses would be paid by the last Friday of the month. So it would look like all our procedures are being followed at this time and, if the claim is approved, it will be paid on time."

Also standing at the general election in the Huntingdon constituency is Mark Argent (Liberal Democrat) Jonathan Djanogly (Conservative) Daniel Laycock (Green) Samuel Sweek (Labour) and Tom Varghese (Independent).