UKIP candidate accepted £100,000 of Euro cash to help his business
by Jennifer Williams
28 January 2014
UKIP’S candidate in the Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election [on 13 February] took nearly £100,000 of EU cash to prop up his business, the M.E.N can reveal.
Cheshire tycoon John Bickley’s tech firm Genemation accepted the grant from a Brussels-backed fund but has now decided to stand on an anti-Europe [correction: anti-EU] ticket.
In recent days, Mr Bickley, widely tipped to come second in next month’s poll, has slammed British governments for ‘outsourcing’ control to the EU.
His party’s central message is that the country should withdraw altogether from Europe [ie, the EU].
But the M.E.N can reveal that when his software company was looking to relocate from Manchester to Liverpool in 2006 – at the time in debt to the tune of nearly £1m – it accepted £95,000 from the Liverpool Seed Fund.
The £27m investment pot – £20m of which was provided by the EU – had been set up to help boost regional growth.
At the time the company moved, Mr Bickley – then CEO, company secretary and a director of Genemation – told the Liverpool Daily Post: “The backing and support from the Liverpool Seed Fund was crucial and we are looking forward to working closely with the fund as we develop.”
The company went into liquidation in 2009, owing more than £450,000.
UKIP’s fortunes in the upcoming Wythenshawe and Sale East by-election have been the subject of widespread speculation ahead of the European polls on May 22.
The party’s central policy is that Britain should withdraw from the European Union.
Mr Bickley was announced as the party’s candidate last Thursday and in an interview shortly afterwards he said: “Parliament has outsourced the running of this country to the EU.
“It needs to take responsibility. I love Europe, its people and culture, but Labour and the Conservatives have subjugated – by stealth – control of this country to the EU and its quangos.”
Speaking to the M.E.N. he said his stance was in no way hypocritical, because he was not a member of UKIP at the time.
He added: “If you are a director of a company and you are responsible for raising money for that company, you would be in breach of your duty to the shareholders if you introduced your political belief system.”
He ended up making a loss from his involvement in the firm, he said – while standing by his belief that the country is better off outside the EU.
“In terms of sources of money, there’s plenty of sources of money out there in the market- place … the money that may come from the EU is a pittance in the context.” [And in any case Britain pays more into the EU kitty every year than it gets back].