Northern Ireland news

Mechanic who left £1.5m to Sinn Féin had will witnessed by veteran IRA man Joe Cahill

William E Hampton who left £1.5m to Sinn Féin.

THE millionaire who left £1.5m to Sinn Féin was living in a mobile home in the south west of Ireland at the time his will was drawn up.

Retired English mechanic William E Hampton left an estate of almost £2.6m when he died last January.

He bequeathed £1.5m of his huge personal wealth to Sinn Féin despite having no known links to the party or Irish republicanism.

When he penned his will in 1997, his address was listed as 'no fixed abode' and stated he was living in a mobile home in the south west of Ireland.

Analysis: Millionaire's will 'future-proofed' from potential republican instability

Sinn Féin may yet be in line for further windfalls from Mr Hampton's estate with the remainder of his assets still the subject of litigation.

It is the largest political donation in Northern Ireland's history.

The DUP previously held the record for the largest donation given to a party in the North after it got £435,000 of so called 'dark-money' from the pro-Brexit Constitutional Research Council during the 2016 referendum campaign.

Mr Hampton, whose massive donation was made public last week by the Electoral Commission, lived most of his life in the small village of Fenstanton in Cambridgeshire in England.

When he died he was living in a nursing home in Pembrokeshire in Wales. He also lived for a time in Bantry in Co Cork.

Mr Hampton's will shows he asked for the vast majority of his assets in "Ireland, England, Singapore and New Zealand" to be bequeathed to 'Provisional Sinn Féin".

The executors and trustees of his will were Belfast based Sinn Féin party treasurer Dessie Mackin and one of the founding members of the Provisional IRA Joe Cahill, who died in 2004.

Both men's address was listed as 44 Parnell Square, which is the Dublin headquarters of Sinn Féin.

The will, drawn up 22-years ago, stated Mr Hampton was "presently of no fixed abode as I am living in my mobile home in Ireland" but that he was using a solicitors in Aberystwyth, Wales, as his postal address.

A separate Probate Registry of Wales document confirms that when he died on January 11, 2018, aged 82. Mr Hampton left an estate in the UK worth £2,599,605.

His will states: "All the rest, residue and remainder of my estate of whatsoever nature and whatsoever situate, to include my assets in Ireland, England, Singapore and New Zealand and other assets I may have anywhere else in the world I give devise and bequeath to my executors and trustees... the political party in the Republic of Ireland known at this time as Sinn Féin."

He also left several sums of £1,000 to British Labour MP Denis Skinner and then 'Private Eye' journalist Paul Halloran, who went on to be known for breaking high profile political sex scandal stories involving senior Tory party members.

The will states the money was intended 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".

He said that if Sinn Féin was no longer in existence at the time of his death, then the money should go to "the political party to which Mr Gerry Adams, MP, then belongs".

If Mr Adams were already deceased or no longer a member of a political party then the money was to go to "the Republican or Nationalist party in the six counties other than the SDLP which has the largest number of elected local councillors".

Under HM Revenue and Customs rules, Sinn Féin will not liable to pay inheritance tax on such a gift.

TUV Leader Jim Allister yesterday said he had asked the National Crime Agency (NCA) to investigate the origins of Mr Hampton's wealth saying: "At or about the time when the will was made the Prime Minister, Tony Blair, was on record as describing Sinn Féin as being 'inextricably linked' with the IRA".

Sinn Féin welcomed the donation saying: "We're obviously pleased that he has chosen to bequest this sum to the party and it's a positive boost to Sinn Féin in working towards Irish unity and towards our political objectives.

"We are in full compliance with the requirements of the Electoral Commission on all of this."

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