When political parties receive donations - especially large donations - it is incumbent on them to check their provenance. The Mail on Sunday's story today demonstrates culpable failure on the part of the Labour Party to do that. A North East businessman, David Abrahams, has given £382,000 over the last five years, but you won't find his name on the Electoral Commission website as he channelled the donations through two of his staff. He gave them the money, then they wrote the cheques. All three are now in big trouble. But surely these were impermissable donations and should have been checked by the Labour Party themselves? But Mr Abrahams and his colleagues are certainly in big trouble. The law is quite clear...
S54 PPERA 2000
(a) any person (“the agent”) causes an amount to be received by a registered party by way of a donation on behalf of another person (“the donor”), and
(b) the amount of that donation is more than £200,
the agent must ensure that, at the time when the donation is received by the party, the party is given all such details in respect of the donor as are required by virtue of paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 to be given in respect of the donor of a recordable donation.
(7) A person commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, he fails to comply with subsection (5) or (6).
S61 PPERA 2000
(2) A person commits an offence if—
(a) he knowingly gives the treasurer of a registered party any information relating to—
(i) the amount of any donation made to the party, or
(ii) the person or body making such a donation,
which is false in a material particular; or
(b) with intent to deceive, he withholds from the treasurer of a registered party any material information relating to a matter within paragraph (a)(i) or (ii).
What I am less clear about it the responsibility of the Party which receives these donations without apparently questioning their provenance. Presumably the Electoral Commission will be looking to Labour to return the money and fine them for accepting it in the first place. Or not, as the case may be.