Friday, April 28, 2006

LibDem Donation: The Nightmare Gets Worse

This is what The Times is reporting this morning...

THE Liberal Democrats were embroiled in further controversy about their biggest donation last night when it emerged that four millionaires are threatening to sue the party unless it gives up the cash. Lawyers for Martin Edwards, the former Manchester United chairman, two Chinese tycoons and an American attorney have written to the party saying they believe that the money is theirs. The party, which has already spent the £2.4 million gift and has little money left, is understood to be fiercely disputing any suggestion that it may have acted in bad faith. Lawyers for senior Lib Dems are threatening to sue anyone who suggests otherwise. Michael Brown (pictured), the Majorca-based trader who passed the money to the Lib Dems, is stuck in a Spanish jail awaiting extradition to Britain accused of forging documents in a court case, which he strongly denies. HSBC is understood to have written to the millionaires saying that banking records show the donations emanated from overseas. Lawyers for Mr Edwards, the Chinese cosmetics moguls Kevin So and Yan Lucy Lu, and Robert William Mann, a retired Los Angeles lawyer, have asked the Lib Dems to return the cash. Their letter was sent to Sir Menzies Campbell, the party leader, Simon Hughes, the president, Lord Razzall, trade spokesman, Lord Rennard, chief executive, and David Griffiths, treasurer. A copy has gone to Mr Kennedy. HSBC says: The first two tranches totalling £250,000 come from money paid into an investment account by Univest, a US financial group; The largest tranche, £1.5 million, came four days after a similar sum was transferred to the London company from its Swiss parent 5th Avenue Partners GMBH. It is possible this sum can be traced back to Univest via another company connected with Mr Brown; The final £630,000 came by electronic transfer from Mr Mann’s investment account. Banking records seen by The Times indicate that Mr Kennedy’s flights were apparently paid from an account comprising investments made by Mr So and Ms Lu. The lawyers Goodman Derrick argue that the Lib Dems may be liable to repay Mr Brown’s donation. The Lib Dems are understood to have instructed Wragge & Co to respond on behalf of all the letter’s recipients. The lawyers warn that any suggestion of bad faith by the party is defamatory. Party lawyers are understood to consider that the demand for the money may be an attempt to embarrass the Lib Dems.

I should have thought that the very acceptance of the donation in the first place was embarrassment enough. Surely you only have to look at Michael Brown's picture to think to yourself. Hmmm. Better be careful here. But don't get me wrong. I wouldn't want to make any suggestion of bad faith! No. Sheer stupidity and momentary loss of perspective is quite sufficient. To read the full article click HERE. And finally, a message to all the LibDems who posted on this Blog when I broke this story last Friday and said it was a non story. Do you now still think it is a non story? And if so, why?

5 comments:

Jock Coats said...

Yeah - I do really. But I'm also happy to stump up my share of the £2.4 million just to get it over and done with. Though I have to say I think it would set a very dodgy precedent for all of us if we did hand it over to, after all, a set of third parties, without a legal order to do so. But either way - sooner rather than later I would say.

I'm sure I've read about things like this happening with charitable donations too, so it wouldn't be the first time someone later claimed "so and so didn't have the right to give you that".

Most of us that I know were pretty pissed of and/or sceptical about it when we heard about the donation in the first place - in the media. So it is kind of a non-story for me to maybe being proved right. Unfortunately.

I suppose the lesson is that if you're going to accept money from a spiv make sure it's a spiv that has enough to cover it and who has the network and "pedigree" not to get caught or talok his way out of it if he does.

Maybe Pergamon Press pensioners should ask the Labour Party for Maxwell's donations back...:) Or former DCL shareholders sue the Tories for some of Jack Lyons' donations...:) (** Though I believe the Guinness four were not morally culpable having been there at the time...:)

Inamicus said...

Two words Iain - Asil Nadir.

Did the Tories ever repay that donation????

Stodge said...

Iain, I've commented on what I believe the political motivation for all thisd is over on pb.com and I'm not going to repeat it here.

It is a non-story and remains so. I think Jock has expressed it pretty well. You, Iain, and the Times clearly feel the need to put out an LD "story" the week before the elections because the LDs are making an impact on the ground in places like Richmond. Any impact we like, especially if it takes votes and seats off the Tories, weakens Cameron who is, I now realise, "the last hope of the stern unbending Tories" (which I believe was once used about Gladstone). :)

Anonymous said...

Two words: "Iain Asil Nadir did the Tories ever repay that donation"

That's 10 words Greg, but LibDem sums never do add up, do they...

Jonathan Sheppard said...

Lib Dem MP Matthew Taylor has a debate on funding of political parties on Tuesday May 2nd. Does he really want to debate this I wonder?