Winston McKenzie, UKIP’s eccentric General Election candidate for Croydon North, may be facing a disciplinary investigation from his own party over allegations about his use of thousands of pounds of campaign funds.
According to UKIP sources, around two dozen branch members who have called for McKenzie’s de-selection as their candidate in the parliamentary election have received an email from the national party to tell them of investigation into the conduct of Marianne Bowness and the “Chump from the Dump” during their time as treasurer and chairman, respectively, of the Lambeth and Croydon North UKIP branch.
The email was from Paul Oakley, of UKIP London region, on behalf of the national party chairman, Steve Crowther.
The email warned members not to contact the media or they would risk being expelled from the party. Nor were they allowed to discuss the matter with Peter Morgan, who this time last year was a member of Croydon Conservative Party as well as UKIP, but has been suspended from membership of the latter for being “a disruptive influence” at local meetings. Morgan has refused to respond to Inside Croydon enquiries about his current status as a member of political parties.
And when Inside Croydon approached McKenzie and his party’s national head office yesterday, neither took the opportunity to deny that an investigation into the election candidate’s conduct is ongoing.
According to local UKIP sources, the investigation follows further allegations raised about the accounting for donations received by McKenzie and Bowness, his closest political ally. As well as the handling of a £1,000 donation for last year’s local election campaign, the matter of a £2,000 loan from an elderly member of the branch is believed to be under scrutiny.
“The £2,000 loan was a year ago, and was to be repaid in a few weeks,” a source said. “None of it has been repaid.” According to the UKIP insider, Bowness and McKenzie maintain that the loan was for another enterprise run by the pair, a company called CTI Expo Ltd, and it was for a two-year term.
“The party member believed the money was for the benefit of the branch, but there was no report to the branch or the party,” the source said.
McKenzie is one of UKIP’s highest profile candidates. But not in a good way.
The timing of the UKIP email to members could put McKenzie and his party in a tricky corner. All candidates for the General Election on May 7 have to register with the local democratic services office by tomorrow, April 9, and pay their £500 deposit; so it would seem likely that in Croydon North UKIP will either have McKenzie representing them, or no one at all. And de-selecting such a nationally high-profile figure – if only for his comic value – as McKenzie would be another blow to the UKIP campaign.
At the 2012 Croydon North by-election, McKenzie ran for UKIP and finished third behind Labour and the Tories, the party’s best performance in elections in Croydon.
But since then, and following the infamous “Croydon Carnival” farce staged by McKenzie in the centre of town ahead of last year’s local elections, there have been allegations made by UKIP members about McKenzie, Bowness and the accounting – or lack of it – for donations to campaign funds.
McKenzie did not reply when approached by Inside Croydon this week.
The former boxer – the self-proclaimed “Champ” who has never won an election nor a professional boxing title has already seen his local branch suspended on his watch, he has lost his position as branch chairman, and in the past month he has also been dropped as UKIP’s “Commonwealth spokesman”. That has not stopped McKenzie’s unwavering support for his party leader Nigel Farage, or “the guv’nor” as he calls him, whom he has compared to Jesus Christ and Martin Luther King.
But McKenzie has been less forthcoming recently in terms of campaigning, whether in last month’s council ward by-election in Selhurst, or even on his own behalf for the General Election. This has led to further discontent among his party colleagues.
Any internal party investigation into McKenzie’s financial affairs is likely to cast its gaze across the unreceipted spending on “security” at the Croydon Carnival, and might also consider McKenzie’s broader record in financial matters.
Such as the running of Foreign and Commonwealth Forum Ltd, for which McKenzie and Bowness (the ex-wife of Tory peer and the former Croydon Council leader, Peter Bowness) have continued to collect subscriptions, but have failed to stage any events since 2013.
Other Companies House records show that Bowness and McKenzie have been directors together before, in the grandly named but ill-fated Winston McKenzie Sporting Foundation. This body was also granted charity status, which meant that for a decade the company never had to pay any Corporation Tax.
Nor did it ever appear to generate any profits. Founded in October 2004, the Sporting Foundation listed as its principal activity the “running of the Croydon Youth Games”, which local newspaper reports from a decade ago said, “ended in farce… after many events were cancelled at short notice”.
Does that all sound familiar?
The Winston McKenzie Sporting Foundation last filed any accounts to Companies House in 2010. In its six-year existence, it managed to accrue total losses of more than £65,000.
Its first full-year of operation was a spectacular failure, when it had income of £8,031 but it spent nearly £24,000 on one item which was described in the accounts as “Cost of generating funds”.
In the company’s death throes, its accounts twice note that McKenzie himself had met the ever-growing financial shortfall. McKenzie stood down as the company chairman in October 2010. No where in the company accounts do they show where the “charitable expenditure” was spent. The company was dissolved in June 2013 and ceased to exist as a charity in January this year.
Undeterred, McKenzie and Bowness have teamed up again as company directors of CTI Expo Ltd, which trades out of the same office on South Norwood High Street. CTI Expo was only incorporated in November 2013 and has yet to file any accounts. As a new company, doubtless it will be seeking investors for the venture.
Anyone who attended the Winston McKenzie-organised Croydon Carnival in May 2014 will be delighted to discover that CTI Expo’s line of business, according to the comapny’s own records at Companies House, is as “exhibition and fair organisers”. Breweries and piss-ups went unmentioned, but it’s a fair bet that “the guv’nor”, Farage, won’t be making an appearance at anything staged by McKenzie any time soon.
- Farage dumps ‘Chump from the Dump’ Winston McKenzie
- UKIP Croydon leader forced to apologise for ‘crass’ members
- McKenzie backed as candidate but not trusted to run UKIP branch
- UKIP’s Winston McKenzie quizzed over Carnival payments
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