Monday, October 16, 2006

Electoral Commission Confirms LibDems May Have to Repay £2.4 Million

Regular readers will know that I have long been speculating that the Liberal Democrats could be forced to pay back the £2.4 donation they received from convicted fraudster Michael Brown. Howls of derision greeted me from LibDem bloggers when I first floated the possibility, although these howls have become more like whimpers of late. Today, both the Times and Telegraph report that the Electoral Commission is now actively considering whether the donation was permissable. And in a rather strange intervention, Labour Minister Nigel Griffiths has called for the donation to be repaid. This is an excerpt from the Telegraph story...

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said yesterday: "We will... be reviewing carefully the High Court judgment of Oct 11 and considering what bearing this may have on the permissibility of the donations made to the Liberal Democrats. To be a permissible donor under the Political, Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA) a company must be registered under the Companies Act 1985, be incorporated in an EU member state, and be carrying on business in the UK. "If there is evidence that 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was not carrying on business in the UK, under PPERA the Commission could ask a court to order the party to forfeit the amount of the donations." Any repaid donation would go into a consolidated fund. The Lib Dems confirmed that the onus to repay the donation would technically fall on the Lib Dems' 77,000 members because the party is an unincorporated association. A spokesman said such a move would be unprecedented and insisted members could refuse if they wished. The spokesman said the repayment of the donation was not causing the party "one pennyworth of concern". A source close to the commission's inquiry into Brown's affairs told The Daily Telegraph that the Lib Dems could also be sued for recovery of the funds by some of Brown's wealthy victims.

36 comments:

john said...

Not that I think it will happen, but it is the National Executive Committee that ends up underwriting an unincorporated association.

newmania said...

I was thinking the other day when I read the Liberal party were allying with the BNP in Calderdale that they are are a nasty collection of people and the very reverse of what they claim to be. In my patch thay are without doubt the most underhand and untruthful party and in the Coucil their record for probity provoked a world record Standard Board enquiries .

They are not criticised enough and i do not understand why the Conservative Party wants to be more like them. I actually prefer NU Lab.

AnyonebutBlair said...

I think PPERA is the least of their legal issues (POCA 2002 anyone?)

Ramon de Vega said...

Are you Tories going to pay the stamp duty you've weaseled out of paying? After all, that money goes to funding pensions for our old folks and nurses for our hospitals.

Why do you begrudge paying your share?

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't be so cheerful, it would set a precedent which could really come back to bite the Tories if the LibDems have to repay this.
Repaying after the Electoral Commission has cleared the donation and after the fraud was discovered only after police investigations.

This smacks more of tryig to slur the party to take the heat of Labour and the Tories for the current police investigation and other irregularities.

Be careful what you wish for, this could lead to the Labour party getting the state funding (and dependency) that it wants for political parties...

Neil Craig said...

So did you expect that the Electoral commission, when asked if they were considering the case would say "No"?

That a Labour Minister joins a Tory blogger over this may not be an example of judicial impartiality.

dynamite said...

I was thinking the other day when I read the Liberal party were allying with the BNP in Calderdale that they are are a nasty collection of people

Was this before or after you discovered that the story was complete and utter bollocks?

Steve Guy said...

Newmania: a lie is a lie no matter how often it is repeated! The Lib Dems will not be working with the BNP in Calderdale or anywhere else for that matter. People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones. Everyone know that the Lib Dems accepted the money in good faith - and everyone knows that both the Tories and NuLab are up to their ears in investigations into loans/donations. If (and it is an 'if') the Lib Dems are ordered to repay the money, we will still have a smaller overdraft that you because we haven't been living beyond our means for years.

Anonymous said...

" 'Confirmed'... 'maybe'..... 'if'...... 'could be'....... "

Bit like the recent Conservative Central Office Office press statement confirming that Ian Dale COULD BE a 'mole' for the Socialist Workers Party and IF he continues to publish stuff like this, he MAY BE standing for election on a 'seagulls loosing deposits' ticket in the Outer Hebredies at the next election.

newmania said...

STEVE GUY SAID :Newmania: a lie is a lie no matter how often it is repeated! The Lib Dems will not be working with the BNP in Calderdale or anywhere else for that matter.:

But they are , check your facts( and not for the first time ).No I don`t think you can compare the honours question ( if thats what you mean ) with this problem which is far more unpleasant.As for "Accepted in good faith " well if that is the case they are to stupid to be trusted with more than a icecream van , if that . I think we all saw what the Lib dems were really like over the Kennedy assasination. For a party with no coherent political philosophy vague assertions of personal niceness are exceedingly importantThere position is therfore laughable at the moment

HA HA HA hA HO HO HO HEEEEtEEtEEEE HA HA hA( Laughable you see).

Anonymous said...

Funny, Steve, that 'Newmania' is talking almost exactly the same twaddle about the BNP as someone called Rik W, who I believe was a defeated Tory candidate, is pushing on another blog forum. Is this some secret conspiracy among a group of Conservatives in alliance with Labour to smear their opponents? If so, I expect Ian Dale will use his full authority to stamp on and crush this disturbing tendency.

Anonymous said...

'Newmania' is obviously a descriptive title - a little too much of the Cannabis maybe - hence the: "HA HA HA hA HO HO HO HEEEEtEEtEEEE HA HA hA"

As for: " There position is therfore laughable at the moment"

There, There now. Not even a full stop. Perhaps a BNP member, given the failure of education obvious in this mis-spelling.

Danvers said...

I have to agree with anonymous: it is still highly speculative that the money will have to be repaid and persuading a court to enter the order against the entire libdem membership could be interesting.

Whilst the situation is quite farcical and obviously political parties should not be funded with dodgy money, do we really want to get into a situation where the regulatory burden is so onerous? Cut the red tape, I say, even if it allows the occasional thing to slip through the net. The adverse publicity is more than enough of an incentive for parties to be careful about taking money from such crooks.

garypowell said...

Do we all remember the days when there was so little political corruption that the BBC run full time with the Hamilton scandle for a whole six months before a general election?

I dont remember any Lib/Dems coming to the Hamiltons or the Consertvative partys defence. The BBC even had the nerve to put up a candidate in the election, Martin Bell.

Or are the Lib/Dems and above all the BBC indicateing that corruption amounting to £2,400,000 that did happen is of less importance then £200 and a free lunch sweetener, that is still being denied?

The lib/Dems and Labour apointed judges put the word of a well know foreign crook with an also well know personal agenda, before the word of a British MP. No other real evidence was ever put forward.

What was good for the goose is now good for the gander. At least it would be if the BBC started doing the job they rob us for every year instead of trying to become a pan national political party by proxy.

Noel Slevin said...

Even if it were ruled they wouldn't have to keep the money, which I very much doubt, they should have the decency to return it anyway. It's the good and proper thing to do.

newmania said...

"There, There now. Not even a full stop. Perhaps a BNP member, given the failure of education obvious in this mis-spelling."

Fair enough on the spelling .The excuse? I do have to make a living in between looking in. Most Lib Dums rely on me doing so and the burden of multi tasking can be a little onerous. I assume you would like your public sector jobs funded by some useful economic activity so forgive me if I rush. Anyway my spelling is better than Shakespeare’s and worse than an estate agent’s hand out. I must be a genius.


The BNP story is true as far as I can tell; in fact one of the Councillors was caught doing the salute. I would give you the link if I could. This is not the first time either as you must be aware. I am a Conservative and loathe the BNP. I daresay my direct action on this front would exceed yours. I do think however that NU Lab`s betrayal of the working classes. for want of a better word, has left a well of bitterness you can expect extremists to prey on .
I think my comment about the sheer unpleasantness of the Libs will be recognised by many and this is, as I said , because there is nothing in the bag except local issues . This tends to make everything personal. At the moment they seem to be presenting themselves as a tax cutting service increasing central controlling localising party . I have never worked out what Liberals believe in and if anyone can tell me, anyone at all I would be genuinely curious. Give Quiche a chance?
On drugs, I met someone yesterday who grew her own ....stuff and smoked it in her home. I `m hard put to think of a reason why this should be illegal. In fact it might be helpful in dismantling the international exploitation of children by producers. Lib Dums often forget this when they pick up their fair trade Kumquat. I expect no better.

They are evil to the core .

dynamite said...

Do the Lib Dems appoint Judges, Gary?

garypowell said...

Danvers
What bad publicity? Out side a few blogs this story has hardly been reported at all. Which is why this sort of thing will carry on happening and indead get far worse.

If the BBC bleated on and on and on about this, as it does about issues that the BBC considers "important" you might just have a point.

The BBC is already is not trusted by all Conservatives it cant run the risk of pissing of the Lib/Dems as well.

Which is why it would not even bother untill a potential leader was literally caught covered in shit or a actual leader had been accused of conspireing to murder his homosexual lover. And they were oh so nice about it when they eventualy did.

newmania said...

GARY POWELL - It is on page two of the Telegraph , but I agree the BBC `s reporting of sleaze is strangely biased .I used to think this was because they were all the ” hired-lackeys-of – the- state” but friends tell me that it has far more to do with the 1960`s style Liberalism that remains entrenched at Oxbridge . The hatred felt for Margaret Thatcher in academic circles was above all because she showed that everything they had been saying was wrong and has not yet dispersed. The feeling ,as a Conservative that the media and the establishment are against you has much to do with the political bias in top Universities and therefore in top establishment (public sector) jobs .

Praguetory said...

Well done on following this through. Your argument has been reasoned and has held water throughout this debacle. It's clear from this thread that some Libs still think that only cursory checks were/should be required for a £2.5m receipt. However, they have at least turned the volume down.

dynamite said...

Gary, Jeremy Thorpe resigned as leader of the Liberal Party over 30 years ago, seven years before I (and plenty of other bloggers) was born. Do update your frame of reference a little...

Danvers said...

Gary

The publicity generated is always going to have a correlation to the importance or general interest of the story. When it comes to the Lib Dems, nothing involving them is likely to be that important, so that apparently only things that get wider coverage involve rent boys. If there was any danger that they might form a government, the wider (i.e. those not so obsessed by politics that they spend Monday morning on a policial blog) might pay attention.

From the tone of some of the posts here, you'd think that Ming Campbell had personally robbed a bunch of pensioners.

Anonymous said...

Did you notice that that lazy Paul "Guido" Staines copies your articles about 30 minutes after you post them?

Manfarang said...

newmania
You haven't been taking your medication,have you?

Anonymous said...

Are 'lazy paul' stains caused by 'fly-away peters'?

Manfarang said...

newmania
Maybe all that hard work has got you down.How about a nice winter holiday in Thailand?That should make you feel better.

Mark Williams said...

It is obvious why the BBC doesn't make a big deal of this story. The chairman of the Electroal Commission is Sam Younger formerly .... Managing Director of the BBC World Service, and a BBC employee for 20 years.

When the EC first looked at the story, they looked at it about as diligently as the Lib Dems looked at Michael Brown. They gave their wishy washy verdict - it's OK as as far as we can see, based on what we have seen, but perhaps we haven't seen everything - and hoped the story would go away.

Now that an egg-on-face situation may be brewing for the Electoral Commissioners, the BBC is hardly likely to start causing troble for "their" man.

Somersetblue said...

I think it's great to let the Lib Dems feel the heat for a while. I dont suspect for one moment that they will have to repay the loan.

However, the party spent the whole of the 90's and the whole of the past six years lying to the public in get votes...

They have said anything and everything in order to get elected. Their tactics are dreadful and always leave a stench.

Over the past year or so, the media have focused more and more onto their so called polices.

This has lead many to rethink about voting for them.

Hopefully, this story will yet again prove that they are just the third party of this country and nothing more..... So really, who cares????

Anonymous said...

If this argument is right, and it is, the Tories will have to pay back the £268,000 they received from Millcentro (later remamed ECJ Investments). Company was wound up because it never traded - and it never filed accounts (all the details have been checked at Companies House/Electoral Commission). Rather embarassing than Tory vice chair and major lender Eliasch was the main shareholder of the company.

Not wild accusations but facts!

garypowell said...

My reference to Neil Hamilton is almost compleatly OT but I used it to make a very very serious point.

Neil Hamiltons personal character was ripped to shreads not just reported on by the BBC. This over a protracted time, and during the run up to a general election.

Although the afair was possibly not compleatly responsible for our 1997 election defeat it was certainly responsible for the scale of it.

This means the BBC, our state broadcaster that we are forced to pay for, is guilty of direct delliberate interference in the British party political democratic process.

The BBC acted in direct contradiction to its own Charter, and broke the law on reporting during an election campaign.

The now obvious fact that they have not since carried on the same vindictive crusade against corruption in politics since 1997 can not be stated enough. Which is why I have taken this oppertunity to so do.

This Hamilton stuff and what has NOT happened at the BBC since, may or may not worry to much of you lott. However as a libertarian that has read all of Orwells books and essays several times, it frightens the CRAP out of me.

To so called liberals out there. We replaced a nice sensible well meaning honest liberal Conservative, John Magor, for an authoratarian socialist theocratic lieing dictator, Tony Blair, and your beloved BBC helped it happen. Also Tony Blair is likely to be replaced by someone not just socialist but even more authoratarian.

Let us please learn a leason from our still recent history, and try our best to not let a disaster like this happen again to our once free liberal country. The simplest and cheapest way to do that is to close down the BBC ASAP.

garypowell said...

My reference to Neil Hamilton is almost compleatly OT but I used it to make a very very serious point.

Neil Hamiltons personal character was ripped to shreads not just reported on by the BBC. This over a protracted time, and during the run up to a general election.

Although the afair was possibly not compleatly responsible for our 1997 election defeat it was certainly responsible for the scale of it.

This means the BBC, our state broadcaster that we are forced to pay for, is guilty of direct delliberate interference in the British party political democratic process.

The BBC acted in direct contradiction to its own Charter, and broke the law on reporting during an election campaign.

The now obvious fact that they have not since carried on the same vindictive crusade against corruption in politics since 1997 can not be stated enough. Which is why I have taken this oppertunity to so do.

This Hamilton stuff and what has NOT happened at the BBC since, may or may not worry to much of you lott. However as a libertarian that has read all of Orwells books and essays several times, it frightens the CRAP out of me.

To so called liberals out there. We replaced a nice sensible well meaning honest liberal Conservative, John Magor, for an authoratarian socialist theocratic lieing dictator, Tony Blair, and your beloved BBC helped it happen. Also Tony Blair is likely to be replaced by someone not just socialist but even more authoratarian.

Let us please learn a leason from our still recent history, and try our best to not let a disaster like this happen again to our once free liberal country. The simplest and cheapest way to do that is to close down the BBC ASAP.

newmania said...

Gary Powell: I expect the BBC`s dislike of the Conservative Party ,especially those parts of it with an intellectual commitment to market theory , to increase.

ITV and the BBC are under great pressure from the proliferation of alternative media and the raison d`etre for the BBC is being eroded .
This is not an unalloyed benefit but a fact nonetheless. They know full well that the Consevative Party are capable of following the logic through and down-sizing Public service Broadcasting to discrete cultural activities like the subsiised theatre . Overall I will not be sorry

Manfarang said...

Would you buy a second hand car from the Hamiltons Gary?

Anonymous said...

Newmania, can you back up your allegation against the LibDems in Calderdale? Here is the story from the Yorkshire Post website. The LibDems totally deny they are entering into any co-operation with the BNP. On what level does it help the Conservatives by telling really obvious lies that are really easy to check?

Yorkshire Post on Calderdale story, 16 October.

Manfarang said...

The mention of Neil Hamilton brings to mind another figure.I saw,at a book fair today, one of Jeffrey Archer's books that has been translated into Thai(not his Prison Diary).
There was also a copy of Mein Kampf in Thai.

Manfarang said...

I didn't see any of your books,Iain.Losing out on market share?