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20th Mar 2018

UKIP on verge of bankruptcy after being handed £175,000 legal costs

The party is said to be facing financial ruin

The party is said to be facing financial ruin.

The United Kingdom Independence Party is facing bankruptcy after being ordered to pay legal fees totaling £175,000 for the part it played in a defamation case brought against one of its MEPs.

The party, which currently has no MPs, will have to find the money in the next two weeks if it decides not to lodge an appeal against the verdict.

The costs relate to a defamation suit brought against its MEP Jane Collins by three Labour MPs, Sarah Champion, Sir Kevin Barron and John Healey, whom she accused of ignoring child sex abuse in Rotherham.

The MPs sued Collins for libel and slander after she claimed in 2014 that they had known about the sexual abuse of 1,400 children in the town over the course of 16 years, but had chosen not to intervene.

While Collins was ordered to pay damages of £54,000, UKIP will be required to pay substantially more after a court found in February this year that the party had intentionally delayed the conclusion of the case by blocking the agreement of a settlement ahead of the 2015 general election.

The ruling comes at a time of tumult for the financially and electorally struggling party. Its former leader, Henry Bolton, was forced to step down last month after racist messages sent by his former partner were made public.

Interim leader Gerard Batton also revealed earlier this month that the party requires £100,000 by the end of March for “operational costs”.