Friday, October 27, 2006

LibDem Donation: Trouble Ahead?

The Electoral Commission has given its firmest indication yet that it may well try to retrive the £2.4 million donation from the LibDems due to its alleged impermissbaility. Click HERE to read the full story.

15 comments:

Rigger Mortice said...

ha ha ha

Jock Coats said...

What do other parties think of this (aside from the fun prospect of seeing the Lib Dems squirm a bit)?

I think you should be shit scared personally. The law says thirty days to determine if it's okay or not. That much was agreed and it was spent. How far back will they one day want to go? If the EC were not persuaded of the case at 30 days they should have instructed the party not to accept the gift period, not to take it spend and one day we might tell you to give it back.

Fair enough, if there is statute or case law that says that Edwards and company can sue for it that's a different thing. But having a quango deciding to reopen cases at will it simply contrary to natural justice IMHO.

Still - good news that Jo Rowntree gave us £2m yesterday...:)

Mark Williams said...

jack coats:

This was nothing to do with the EC. The law is the law and the Lib Dems were well aware of the issue at the time. Their treasurer at the time was concerned, but was overruled by Lord Razzall.

The EC were aaware of complaints about Brown within days of the donation being made public, so this is hardly goiing back in time.

Howver, if the EC decide that there was no business in the UK, then the both the Lib Dems and the EC have some explaining to do. How does a business that was thought to exist suddenly disappear? The reality is that neither the Lib Dems nor the EC did proper checks last October, and now they have been caught out.

It is easy to do proper checks on most companies. You just look at their accounts. In cases like Brown, parties have to do a bit more research. This might be inconvenient, but for 2.4 million it would have been worth the effort.

The whole episode demonstrates the Lib Dems unfitness for government.

Anonymous said...

I am pleased that Jo Rowntree has stumped up £2M, hopefully that will help any repayment, I say this as the over spending by all parties on electioneering, has brought all party funding into the realm of sleaze and undue influence. It does nothing for getting voter involvement in what is seen as seedy and unresponsive unless you have a large cheque book.

Anonymous said...

Jock Coats - the law says the party, not the Electoral Commission, has 30 days to decide if the donation is permissible or not. The law goes back to 2001 (Feb) when the act was passed so I think your question of how far back things can go, is fairly pointless.

And you say reopen. Again, I think this is incorrect - didn't they always say that if there was more info that it would be looked at again? Well, it seems there is more info, which is being looked at now.

I think the problem with the time lapse is that the Electoral Commission make the decision on info they have access to. So if 5th Ave didn't file accounts with companies house when they were supposed, those couldn't be looked at. There is progress now because the court cases are throwing up new info.

Mark Williams said...

Guthrum:

The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust have stipulated that their £1.8 million donation is to be used to fund various specific projects, including the promotion of female candidates, and the Lib Dems are not able to use it to repay the Brown donation.

It is worth reading the history of the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust to see how it has been hijacked by the Lib Dems as a source of cash (http://www.jrrt.org.uk/history.htm). The Trust was formed in 1904 but didn't actually give any money to the Liberal Party until 1935, 9 years after Joseph Rowntree died. The history says that Rowntree was a supporter of liberal with a small "l" causes, and that he viewed a thriving Liberal Party as essential to the country. It doesn't actually say that he was ever a member, supporter or donor to the Liberal Party.

Between 1904 and 1939 the Trust only gave 0.89% of its grants to the Liberal Party. Now it gives 50% annually of its grants to the Lib Dems, and its board of directors (for it is a company) is stuffed with LibDem apparatchiks headed by Lord Kirkwood (a Lib Dem Peer and former Lib Dem MP).

The company's Annual Report shows a lot of grant giving activity but doesn't really mention their commercial activities (holding shares and some property income and actually undertaken by subsidiaries). The directors of the parent company don't really seem to get involved with those companies apart from "reviewing" their assets every year, no doubt so that they can say they have done so in the directors report, and the subsidiaries do not appear to have any other employees.

One might well ask whether the JRRT is any more in "business" than 5th Avenue Partners.

william norton said...

It would be totally wrong to gloat about the Lib Dems over this. Absolutely wrong. No gloating to be done whatsoever. None.

Mark Williams said...

Perhaps no gloating, but it is worth noting that if the EC applies successfully to the court to confiscate the donation, then there is a prime facie case against the Lib Dems for a criminal prosecution under s54 PPERA 2000 for the non-return of an impermissible donation.

Inamicus said...

The Lib Dems will argue that they have been defrauded by Brown, given that he allegedly fabricated evidence to show that 5th Avenue were trading in the UK

tom_r said...

Harsh, but ultimately fair.

Sir Bentley Pauncefoot said...

The question to ask oneself is simple:

What would the Lumpdims be saying if any other party found itself the wrong side of £2.4 million of Mr Brown's dodgy dosh?

Anonymous said...

Jock
The issue isn't about whether the LDs made a criminal error in accepting the donation - I doubt that anyone seriously believes that, not even in our wildest partisan dreams. The fact of the matter is that a court took the view that 5th Avenue were not 'trading' in the UK, so the donation is automatically invalid now. The LDs may well have been misled by Michael Brown - they weren't the only ones to fall for it - but the donation is going to have to be returned.

The way out is for the party to return the donation before the EC takes them to court - which it will. The EC is reopening the case because new evidence has been presented - entirely consistent with natural justice.

Anonymous said...

Political Hack - if makes no difference at all if the Lib Dems return the money. They have an initial 30 days to check the donation and return it if it is invalid. After that, there is nothing in the legislation that has this provision.

If, after that 30 days, a donation is found to be impermissible, it doesn't matter if they've spent it, returned it, set it on fire, they can still be made by a court to surrender the equalivant value to the Treasury.

David Lindsay said...

I carry no candle for the Lib Dems of all people, but we should all be standing up to the Creepy Electoral Commission at every opportunity. Look at the CEC's treatment of Constituency Campaigning Services and of the Midlands Industial Council (it's the being provincial that really annoys the CEC).

If this persecution succeeds, then the next target, which is in fact the real intended target, will be the political campaigning and research work of the trade unions, which Labour would also traditionally describe as "part of the family", but which the powers behind Hazel Blears certainly would not. And then what?

It is already illegal to put any designation other than "Independent" on a ballot paper unless it is the name of a party whose constitution (including, of course, it aims and objectives) and whose Leader have been approved by the Creepy Electoral Commission, which has the effrontery to charge £150 for this privilege, plus a further £25 every year.

The ultimate intention is that no one should be allowed to contest any election except at taxpayers' expense and thus with the approval of some commission appointed around Oxbridge high tables or at dinner parties in the most chi-chi parts of London.

Anonymous said...

What is so creepy about the Midlans Industrial COuncil decision? That they were found to be perfectly acceptable as a donor and allowed to continue? And the 'treatment' of Constituency Campaigning Services appears to have been the Electoral Commission writing to them to ask for some information. Hardly heavy-handed.

Let me guess David Lindsay - have you stood as an indie candidate and not got in?