Monday, May 25, 2009

Clegg Squirms Over £2.4m Donation



Nick Clegg is rather uncomfortable at Jon Sopel's line of questioning in this short clip. He presses him to commit to paying back the £2.4 million donation to the LibDems from convicted fraudster Michael Brown. Clegg merely repeats the party line and looks increasingly shifty. He says they did all the due diligence they could reasonably have done but then in the next breath says the Electoral Commission will now have to look at all the papers to see if they really did do that.

It's clear from this interview that Clegg actually, in his heart of hearts, thinks they should pay the money back, but because they haven't got it, they can't.

Hattip: Playpolitical.com

28 comments:

Thatsnews said...

The Liberal Democrats have a potential debt of £2.5M, which they cannot service.

Would this not mean they could be construed as trading whilst insolvent?

If they raise money for a General Election campaign, could not the people who consider themselves to be real owners of this £2.5M have a legal order freezing this money until such time as a court case could be held to determine who has a right to the £2.5M?

The Liberal Democrats might argue that this could impede their election campaign. The court might respond: "Tough!"

It will be interesting to see what happens.

Charles said...

Clegg needs to realise that Michael Brown STOLE this money. He defrauded investors and gave away money that wasn't his. Whether or not the LibDems acted in good faith (and I have no reason to believe that they didn't) they have beenefited from the proceeds of crime.

They have no choice but to repay the money if they wish to retain any credibility.

Anonymous said...

He'd be better off saying that.

Anonymous said...

No Daley Dozen again

Anonymous said...

Perhaps he can ask the MP's of all parties that can conjure up thousands of pounds at the drop of a hat,to donate some spare taxpayers cash?

He should say that their Party is getting a loan and will repay it over a period of time (4 yrs?).
This is what we,the general public would have to do.

East Coast Voice said...

Sorry to be slow here but to whom would the money be paid? Is there any guarantee the money will end up compensating those who were defrauded?

I don't believe it is in the interests of democracy to see the LD's election campaign hamstrung by a chronic lack of funds - I speak as someone who has no intention of voting for them.

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Mirtha Tidville said...

I just hope the press pick up on this and start to milk it..The lum Dubs have had a too easy ride for far too long...The point needs to be made that as long as they dont return this tainted money they have no moral highground to preach at the rest of us....

Hari said...

East Coast Voice said...
Sorry to be slow here but to whom would the money be paid? Is there any guarantee the money will end up compensating those who were defrauded?

SOCA !

Unsworth said...

Yep, they're skint. He's just going to have to cling on until they can afford to repay it - five or six years possibly?

Plato said...

Clegg has a most unfortunate turn of phrase that he used several times 'we took the checks' - I heard it as 'we took the cheques'.

Surely you make checks? Freudian slip?!

UB41 said...

What I don't understand with all of these revelations is why don't MPs get on the front foot?

The only ones who appear to be; are the ones with noting to hide.

It's all very well Nadine being concerned over suicides etc, but if I were an MP (regardless of how I behaved), I'd be getting my expenses into the public domain toute de suite.

Far better to be in the driving seat when it comes to publication than looking over your shoulder all of the time.

Why aren't they doing that?

By my simple maths, the average MP must have about 1600 receipts.

I'm just amazed that there are not more taking the initiative away from the Telegraph (good or bad)

Has anyone totted up the total of misdemeanours?

Be good to see that somewhere.

I might have a go today!

killemallletgodsortemout said...

"....this was well before my time as leader".

Phew, that's alright then.

Jimmy said...

Did that Asil Nadir money ever get returned?

Iain Dale said...

Jimmy, congrats, you win the prize for the most predictable comment.

But since you ask, if it were up to me, yes it should, although the two things are not directly comparable.

Pete said...

They took the money after, apparently checking that it was OK to do so. They then spent the money.

Several years later we discover that the donor was a crook.

I don't think it would be fair if they suddenly had to produce the money now - and no, I don't support them...

Alex said...

This is of course total bullshit from Clegg.

The donating company had no employees, no place of business, no record of trading, no VAT registration, no accounts and no FSA registration.

There was no due diligence and the Lib Dems should be hung out to dry.

A comp[laint was made to the Electroal Commission about this 2 days after details of the donation were published - as it happens by a senior Conservative MP, former minsiter, Privy Councillor, but the LEctoral Commission sat on their arses until Sam Younger (head of the EC) was buttonholed by the MP at the Conservative Party conference later in 2005.

The behaviour of the EC was quite frankly a disgrace, having prevaricated when there was a prima facie case to answer, irrespective of any fraudulent activity. The simple facts were that 5th Avenue Partners was not a permissible donor. End of story.

Manfarang said...

1:19PM
But it's not up to you.


wv aspig

Savonarola said...

Sopel is pathetic.

"Mr Clegg I acknowledge that you accepted the donation in good faith having done all your due diligence. Does this justify holding on to stolen goods? If you have been given a valuable painting for your HQ and if this was proven to be stolen would you return same?"

Anonymous said...

I didn't think he was squirming. He's right that its two different issues and no Party can claim to be above those same standards, can they?
I've been impressed with Clegg over the expenses issue, though I would vote for the Lib Dums. I'm going for a minor party this time round. I saw the English Democrats advert the other night and was very impressed.
Howver, unlike Brown, at least Clegg and Cameron reply to questions, even if they do go round the houses to get to their point.
Wait till Cameron gets in power. He'll be just like Brown at PMQs. Parliamentarians might pretent to want change, but they'll make sure its a change that suits their purposes, not the electorate.

The Grim Reaper said...

Erm... how exactly are they meant to give the money back to Michael Brown? Unless I'm mistaken, he's a man on the run. It's not as if they can call him and arrange to transfer the momey to his bank account, is it?

Clegg didn't help his own case, however. Had he said "We'd love to pay the money back. Unfortunately, we just haven't got £2.4 million to hand out to him right now.", it would have been far more honest.

As for those talking about LibDem debts, feel free to take a look at how much debt the Labour Party is in. What I wouldn't do to see that party declared bankrupt.

Jimmy said...

"the two things are not directly comparable."

Really? Apart form the fact that the Libdem donation, unlike the Polly Peck money, was publicly declared at the time I'm struggling to see the distinction

Anonymous said...

We have to be reasonable here. The Liberal Democrats took this donation in good faith, honestly believing that company donating that money was entitled to do so.

The law therefore states that they don't have to pay it back - as indeed the law ought to.

When Michael Brown turned out to be a crook, the Liberal Democrats were as much a victim of this fraudster's deceptions as much as everyone else.

It would be a grave injustice if, due to no fault of their own, the Liberal Democrats were forced to become effectively bankrupt. The law is right, the Electoral Commission's decision is right, and we should all move on and talk about something else.

Mark Senior said...

It is not Jimmy's comment that is most predictable but the thread itself which must be your 5th or 6th on this topic .
Let us give a few facts . It is not the LibDems who are in danger of trading whist insolvent . The last accounts published for Y/E 31/12/2007 showed them with net assets over liabilities of £ 1.1 million . The other 2 main parties are both technically insolvent and have been for some years . The Conservatives despite selling off their only major asset Smith Square ended 2007 with net liabilities over assets of £ 7.7 million and Labour were even worse off financially .
Finally on the donation itself , there is the usual uninformed comments on here which clearly show no knowledge of the law itself . Michael Brown defrauded a number of people of a substantial sum of money , he donated to the LibDems a substantial but much smaller sum of money . Any of those defrauded by Michael Brown would face a difficult job in court demonstrating that some ( and if any what % ) of the money donated to the LibDems is legally theirs .
The Electoral Commission is still considering the donation and should they decide that it should be repaid , the resources will be found to do so . The LibDems finances are far healthier than those of the Conservatives and Labour who judging by the way they manage their own accounts are not fit to run the economy of the country .

Dic Dyffryn said...

It seems that my pevious post on this item didn't make it through the censor's office, so I'll remove any hint of libel this time.

My point was that the funding of main political parties (and also of some of the smaller ones) is another catastrophe waiting to happen. Some of the Conservative Party's sources are not for the squeamish either, and the cash for honours scandal showed that Labour is about as rotten as you can get.

Whether we like it or not as taxpayers, we need to clean this pile of ordure up along with MPs' expenses, allowances, etc. etc., and that has to mean more state funding, otherwise you will always leave the parties prey to sinister businessmen and union monoliths. Credit to David Cameron and Nick Clegg for repeatedly trying to clean this mess up, and the fact that Nick Clegg squirmed is surely a positive - we should be more worried by senior politicians who don't flinch when confronted with the sources of their funding.

Anonymous said...

So very hypocritical Lib Dem, the whole thing......Just like Lembit O'Pickled and his defence of renting out his flat whilst living with his girlfriend in her flat. A story that's bound to get bigger and bigger. Watch this space

Alex said...

Mark Senior said:
"Finally on the donation itself , there is the usual uninformed comments on here which clearly show no knowledge of the law itself . Michael Brown defrauded a number of people of a substantial sum of money , he donated to the LibDems a substantial but much smaller sum of money ."


Factually incorrect. Michael Brown was not registered to vote in the UK and thus any donation from him would have been impermissible.

The donation actually came from a UK icorporated company controlled by him but that company was found by 2 High Court judges to have never been in business. Neither the Lib Dems nor the ELectoral Commission have ever bbeen able to produce a scrap of evidence that the company had any business in the UK, and hence it is also an impermissible donor, so as a matter of electoral law the donation should either be returned or forfeited.

Jimmy said...

"The donation actually came from a UK icorporated company controlled by him but that company was found by 2 High Court judges to have never been in business. Neither the Lib Dems nor the ELectoral Commission have ever bbeen able to produce a scrap of evidence that the company had any business in the UK, and hence it is also an impermissible donor, so as a matter of electoral law the donation should either be returned or forfeited."

Ah, the Ashcroft gambit.