A FORMER Worcestershire UKIP MEP has been cleared of fiddling £3,250 in expenses - branding the police investigation into her "a vanity case".

Nikki Sinclaire has walked free from Birmingham Crown Court after being unanimously cleared by a jury of misconduct in a public office and money laundering.

The ex-UKIP politician has called it "the only just verdict", and claimed investigators relied on as many as 10 incorrect allegations dating back to October 2009.

Throughout her two-week trial Ms Sinclaire had admitted personal negligence in not checking claims made up to July 2010, but alleged her expenses had been "deliberately corrupted" by former office aide John Ison.

Ms Sinclaire looked visibly relieved as the verdicts were read out today and hugged tearful supporters in the public gallery.

Speaking outside court, she said: "In times of police cutbacks I find it incredible that on the say-so of one embittered man West Midlands Police spent, I believe in the region of £1.5 million chasing a vanity case of £3,200."

The force defended its handling of a "diligent and professional" investigation, but has declined to say how much the inquiry cost.

Mr Ison, who gave evidence for the prosecution, admitted in court sending a message to a party colleague about the 47-year-old, which read: "Ok, Plan B - fraud."

The jury was told that at the time there was an atmosphere of "hostility" between Ms Sinclaire and Nigel Farage, with Mr Ison accepting having passed information on about her.

There was no suggestion of any wrongdoing by Mr Farage or other senior party figures.

Under cross-examination from Ms Sinclaire's barrister Sean Hammond, Mr Ison accepted being a "spy or a mole" in her office.

Mr Ison also accepted making 30-40 hours of secret audio recordings of Ms Sinclaire.

He denied any wrongdoing, saying his actions were "for the good of the party".

Ms Sinclaire, of Shirley, near Birmingham, had always admitted her claims were in "error" but told jurors she "paid no attention" to travel expenses as it was her office staff's job.

She told the jury: "I was negligent - I am embarrassed about it", but denied deliberate wrongdoing.

The ex-MEP's lawyers instructed a forensic accountant who found she would have made just over £3,000 from the claims.

Jurors also heard of genuine claims she never made and how she subsidised £91,000, in office costs from her own salary which were never submitted and effectively left her out of pocket.

She failed to get re-elected at the 2014 European elections and was charged in July 2014.

Superintendent Maria Fox, of West Midlands Police said: "This long, complex inquiry has been investigated in a diligent and professional manner."