Jolene Bunting reported to PSNI for fraud by Britain First leader Paul Golding
“Ms Bunting abused her position as a Belfast City councillor to commit fraud against me and Britain First”
Britain First leader Paul Golding says he has reported former Belfast City councillor Jolene Bunting to the PSNI for fraud.
It comes less than a week after a public services watchdog found Ms Bunting had doctored a wage slip to convince the far-right political party to pay a fine she received for allowing member Jayda Fransen to sit in the mayoral chair at Belfast City Hall.
Bunting was later given money through two online payments made by Mr Golding for the alleged council fine, before an internal “investigation” by the party caused them to suspect they had been misled.
After last week’s NI Public Services Ombudsman (NIPSO) ruling, Mr Golding said he has reported the incident and is now waiting for the PSNI to get in touch to take a full statement.
“Ms Bunting abused her position as a Belfast City councillor to commit fraud against me and Britain First,” he alleged.
“NIPSO has already found her to have committed fraud and she is banned from standing for election as a result. Now, the case has been handed to the PSNI for criminal investigation and I will pursue this to the bitter end.”
In January 2018, Ms Fransen — at the time the deputy leader of Britain First — posted a video of herself sitting in the Lord Mayor’s chair in the council chamber of Belfast City Hall and wearing official robes.
Fransen, who had just appeared in court on incitement charges that morning, was heard saying she intended to fight the case and clear her name for a speech “in which I mentioned the ‘I’ word, Islam”.
Her access to the chamber had been facilitated by Bunting, who was an independent councillor for the Court ward, having originally been elected on a TUV ticket.
Belfast City Council said at the time that the protocols for filming in the chamber were not followed and that it was not made aware of the plans. It said it was looking into the circumstances.
A complaint from Mr Golding to NIPSO was upheld last Wednesday, which ruled that Ms Bunting brought her role into disrepute by doctoring a wage slip to get money from Britain First.
The adjudication hearing was told that, in July 2018, Bunting — at the time an independent councillor — had told Golding that she had been financially sanctioned by the council.
She was said to have told Golding in a “flustered” phone call that this was as a result of letting Ms Fransen sit in the Lord Mayor’s chair.
By July of that year, with Fransen in prison serving a jail term for incitement, Bunting contacted Golding claiming she had been sanctioned £500 for the propaganda stunt.
She was later given money through two online payments made by the Britain First leader for the alleged council fine, before the internal “investigation” caused them to suspect they had been misled.
Ms Bunting told the Sunday Life that she would fight her ban from public office and that she had been “intimidated” from her home following the complaint.
“There were people hanging around outside my house. I called the police several times about it,” she said.
“I was followed while taking my two children to school and I was so shaken I had to call them again. And now I’ve been forced to move.”
In a lengthy statement issued after the proceedings, Ms Bunting described the case as “vexatious”.
“I have many regrets about associating with this man, and many friends and family warned me not to get involved,” she said.
The former councillor said she had “never been disingenuous or dishonest in any way towards Mr Golding”.
“As far as I was concerned, Mr Golding had loaned me this money,” she added.
The PSNI has been contacted for comment.
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