Janice Atkinson

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Janice Atkinson
MEP
Member of the European Parliament
for South East England
Assumed office
1 July 2014
Preceded by Marta Andreasen
Personal details
Born (1962-08-31) 31 August 1962 (age 54)
London, England
Nationality British
Political party Independent (2015–present)
Other political
affiliations
UK Independence Party
(2011–2015)[1]
Conservative Party
(circa 1980 (claimed)-2011)[2]
(active 2005–2011)[3]
Website janiceatkinson.co.uk
European Parliament biography

Janice Ann Atkinson (born 31 August 1962) is an independent Member of the European Parliament for the South East England region, formerly representing the UK Independence Party (UKIP). She was elected in 2014, second on the list for the region behind Nigel Farage. In March 2015, she was expelled from UKIP for "bringing the party into disrepute" after her chief of staff was recorded trying to fraudulently inflate her expenses.[4][5][6][7][8]

Political career[edit]

Atkinson is a former member of the Conservative Party and ran a marketing business for two decades prior to becoming an MEP. As Janice Small, she was a press officer for the Conservatives in the south-east during the 2005 general election and in the 2010 general election, she was the Conservative candidate for Batley and Spen, finishing second, 4,406 votes behind Labour incumbent Mike Wood.[9] She was also director of Conservative Action for Electoral Reform.[10]

Atkinson joined UKIP in 2011, citing David Cameron's failure to produce a referendum on European Union membership.[11] As Janice Atkinson-Small she wrote a column for the Daily Mail.[12]

She was selected as the UKIP candidate for Folkestone and Hythe for the 2015 general election, before being expelled from the party and withdrawn as its candidate due to a 'serious financial irregularity'.[1]

On 16 June 2015, it was announced that Atkinson had joined the newly formed far-right group in the European Parliament, Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF).[13]

Atkinson is an associate of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).[14]

Controversies[edit]

During the 2014 campaign it emerged that despite Atkinson's claims – and status as a champion of state selective education – her alma mater, Blackheath Bluecoat School, is not and has never been a grammar school.[15]

It was also reported that, before she joined UKIP, Atkinson was dropped from the 2011 alternative vote campaign following a meeting with undecided Conservatives in which she mentioned "her support for elements of" the British National Party's platform.[16] A few days later Atkinson swore at anti-racism campaigners. The incident followed her call for 'abusive' anti-UKIP protestors to be arrested by the police. A photo capturing the moment was widely reported and went viral on social media.[17] Atkinson, who has described towns in Kent as 'no-go areas' as a result of Eastern European immigration, has defended her position, claiming she marched as part of the Anti-Nazi League in her youth.[18]

In August 2014 she issued an apology after being recorded by a BBC News crew referring to the Thai (or Thai-born) wife of a constituent, who were both UKIP supporters, as "a ting-tong from somewhere", a term used in Thailand for people with mental health problems. The woman and her husband threatened to withdraw from UKIP membership but changed their mind after a personal apology from UKIP leader Nigel Farage.[19][20] Interviewed on camera later at their home, the woman and her husband said that Atkinson hadn't apologised to them and was quite belligerent. Whilst speaking of Atkinson, Farage said "99% of UKIP members aren't like that and don't hold those views."[19]

In December 2014 it was revealed that Atkinson, whose annual salary as an MEP was around £79,000 per year, owed more than £2,000 in unpaid child support.[21] Her ex-husband claimed this had "caused major hardship for her son and for her family".[21] Atkinson was singled out for criticism as she had previously attacked "feckless families" who have more children than they can afford.[22][23]

Expenses fraud and expulsion from UKIP[edit]

On 19 March 2015 Atkinson was suspended from the party following "allegations of a serious financial nature."[1] The Sun published a secret recording in which Atkinson's chief of staff, Christine Hewitt, spoke to a staff member at a restaurant in Margate and asked them for a fraudulent invoice, inflating the bill to over three times the cost of the £950 meal.[5][6] On the recording Hewett was heard to say “we overcharge them slightly, because that’s the way we repatriate it.”[5][6] The following day the police were reported to be investigating.[6]

On 23 March Atkinson was expelled from UKIP for "bringing the party into disrepute".[4] No legal action was taken against Atkinson,[24] but Hewitt pled guilty to fraud and was given a suspended jail sentence.[7][8]

Policies[edit]

In the aftermath of the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, Atkinson called for death penalty for those convicted of terrorism.[25]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Lizzie Dearden (19 March 2015). "Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson suspended and axed as election candidate over 'financial allegations'". The Independent. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  2. ^ Janice Atkison MEP (1 July 2015), Janice Atkinson MEP (About Janice), archived from the original on 29 June 2015, retrieved 2 July 2015 
  3. ^ Seymour, Ellee (8 July 2006), Let me introduce you to Janice Small, archived from the original on 15 September 2011, retrieved 2 July 2015 
  4. ^ a b "UKIP's Janice Atkinson expelled from party". BBC News. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 23 March 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "BBC News – Nigel Farage: UKIP Janice Atkinson allegations 'couldn't look worse'". BBC News. 20 March 2015. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  6. ^ a b c d Gallagher, Paul (20 March 2015). "Ukip's suspended members: Janice Atkinson joins long list as police investigate her expenses – Crime – UK – The Independent". The Independent. Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  7. ^ a b Hooper, Paul (7 September 2016). "Former Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson's aide Christine Hewitt, from Maidstone, sentenced for inflating meal receipt in Margate". Kent Online. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  8. ^ a b "UKIP activist Christine Hewitt admits restaurant expense fraud - BBC News". BBC News. 8 September 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-17. 
  9. ^ "Janice Small – Conservative". Winsfordguardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  10. ^ "Conservatives and electoral reform". Opendemocracy.net. 2009-06-08. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  11. ^ "Tory Janice Small defects to UKIP in row over Europe". Spenboroughguardian.co.uk. 2011-10-10. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  12. ^ "Janice Atkinson-Small's columns for the Mail". Dailymail.co.uk. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  13. ^ Mason, Rowena (16 June 2015). "Ex-Ukip Janice Atkinson joins Le Pen-led EU group". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  14. ^ "Climate deniers: Ukip in bed with corporate America". Politics.co.uk. 2014-11-05. Retrieved 2016-07-21. 
  15. ^ Has Janice Atkinson Been Caught Out ?, Times diary, 15 May 2014, reprinted by Hope Not Hate[better source needed]
  16. ^ "Controversy just follows some people around …". Evening Standard. 15 May 2014. Back in 2011, before her defection to Ukip, she was one of the few Tories to back the Alternative Vote system in the referendum on electoral reform. At a meeting held at AV HQ with senior executives on the campaign, she was wheeled out to persuade fellow Tories who were as yet undecided. Cue sharp intakes of breath when she calmly explained that she was supporting AV in part because she knew that had she been able to pick up second preferences from BNP supporters by communicating to them her support for elements of their platform, she would have won her seat. 
  17. ^ "Ukip candidate slams protesters she swore at as 'fat' and 'a witch'". Your Canterbury. 19 May 2014. 
  18. ^ Francis, Paul (11 May 2014). "UKIP candidate Janice Atkinson defends claim Kent has no-go areas due to Eastern European gangs". Kent Online. 
  19. ^ a b "UKIP leader Farage sorry for MEP Janice Atkinson's 'offensive' term". BBC. 19 August 2014. 
  20. ^ "UKIP MEP Janice Atkinson uses 'outrageous' term for Thai woman". BBC Online. 18 August 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "MEP behind Ukip's welfare policy chased for child support – Channel 4 News". Channel 4. 19 December 2014. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  22. ^ Janice Atkinson (8 March 2013). "Our welfare state is just rewarding feckless behaviour". Daily Express. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  23. ^ "Ukip MEP Janice Atkinson, who attacked 'feckless' welfare families, owes £2,000 in missed child support payments". The Independent. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  24. ^ "Janice Atkinson: MEP to face no action over receipt claim". BBC News. BBC. 2 February 2016. Retrieved 19 September 2016. 
  25. ^ Tom Pyman (23 May 2017). "Kent politician demands return of the death penalty following Manchester terror attack". kentnews.co.uk. Retrieved 5 June 2017.