Wednesday 18 September 2019

'I've never heard of him,' says Labour MP given £1,000 by caravan-dwelling multi-millionaire who left Sinn Féin €1.6m

Labour MP Dennis Skinne. Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images
Labour MP Dennis Skinne. Photo by Peter Summers/Getty Images
William E Hampton
Investigative journalist Paul Halloran.

Ralph Hewitt

A high-profile politician named as a beneficiary in the will of William E Hampton - who also left at least £1.5m (€1.6m) to Sinn Féin - claims to have "never heard of him".

Veteran Labour MP Dennis Skinner was bequeathed the sum of £1,000 - but the MP for Bolsover said he had not received any money.

sn sinn fein donor.png
William E Hampton

When Mr Hampton died in January 2018 aged 82 at a nursing home in Pembrokeshire, Wales, the former mechanic left an estate of almost £2.6m, which included assets in Ireland, England, Singapore and New Zealand.

Mr Hampton, who was unmarried and had no children, wrote in his will: "I give, devise and bequeath the sum of one thousand pounds (sterling) to Dennis Skinner, Labour MP, Houses of Parliament, London, for his own use and benefit absolutely."

However, Mr Skinner, who was unaware of the story surrounding Mr Hampton's will, stated: "All I'm telling you is I've not received any money from any will whatsoever." He added: "I've never heard of him."

READ MORE: Mystery Sinn Féin donor who left party €1.6m was 'a very lonely creature and a sad man', says benefactor given £1,000

Mr Hampton was living in a mobile home in the Republic when he bequeathed the money to Sinn Féin - the largest-ever known donation to a political party in Northern Ireland - and other beneficiaries.

The executors and trustees of his will were Joe Cahill and Dessie Mackin, who were Sinn Féin's national treasurers in 1997.

It is now understood that he inherited the money from his father, who ran a transportation business called Hamptons near the London borough of Ealing. When his father sold the business and later died, Mr Hampton and his sister were the sole beneficiaries.

As part of Mr Hampton's instructions, which he wrote in 1997, £1,000 was given to both Mr Skinner and investigative journalist Paul Halloran, while another £6,000 was donated to two English residents. The £1.5m gift to Sinn Fein was made public last Thursday by the Electoral Commission, with the party not ruling out further donations from the will, as there is more than £1m still unaccounted for.

Investigative journalist Paul Halloran.

In was outlined in Mr Hampton's wishes that the money was to be used to cover election expenses, to fund Sinn Féin offices and advice centres, and to aid republican prisoners and their families in both Ireland and Britain.

Under HM Revenue & Customs rules, Sinn Féin will not have to pay inheritance tax on the £1.5m gift as any political party that has at least two MPs in the House of Commons is not liable to do so. Sinn Féin has seven MPs, but they do not take their seats in the house.

A political party also qualifies for exemption if it has one MP and received no less than 150,000 votes at the last general election. Without exemptions, anyone who is left £1.5m would be required to pay around £470,000 in inheritance tax.

Belfast Telegraph

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