Monday, December 14, 2009

The Mystery of Lord Paul's Privy Councillorship

I was interested to read THIS article in this morning's Times, which informs us that Lord Paul has been made a Privy Councillor. Nothing odd in that, you may think. Except there is. It is very rare indeed for such a junior politician to be raised to the Privy Council. Lord Paul is, of course, a major donor to the Labour Party. Tory MP Graham Stuart thinks the whole thing stinks and has written to the difficult to find Lord Mandelson.

Dear Lord Mandelson

I am writing to you regarding the troubling suggestions this weekend that the appointment of Lord Paul to the Privy Council, above Lord Brabazon, Chairman of Committees, may have been related to his close financial relationship to the Prime Minister. In particular, attention has been drawn to his promise to provide substantial financial support to Labour’s General Election campaign.

In order to put any suggestion of impropriety beyond doubt, I would be grateful if you could answer the following questions in your capacity as Lord President of the Council.

1. Membership of the Privy Council is normally only given to Cabinet and other senior ministers, senior politicians from the Opposition party, members of the Royal Family, senior judges, and British Ambassadors. On what basis therefore was Lord Paul made a Privy Counsellor? 10 Downing Street has claimed he was appointed because he was the first deputy speaker of the Lords from an ethnic minority. However, Keith Vaz was only became a Privy Counsellor in 2006 – seven years after he was made Britain’s first Asian minster.
2. Was the matter of Lord Paul’s donations to the Prime Minister raised during the process of appointing him to the Privy Council?
3. Similarly, was Lord Paul’s promise to donate ‘whatever I can afford’ to Labour’s General Election campaign raised during the appointment process?
4. Shortly before he was sworn in to the Privy Council, it was alleged that Lord Paul had misused his Parliamentary allowances. He has since temporarily stepped down from his post in the House of Lords while an investigation into this matter is completed. Was this subject discussed between the allegations being made and the swearing in of Lord Paul?

I believe these questions are in the public interest, I would therefore be grateful if you could give them your immediate attention.

Yours sincerely,

Graham Stuart MP

Lord Paul appears to be Gordon Brown’s favourite ‘non-dom’. He has been made a Privy Councillor despite having never held any ministerial position or senior office. It’s worth listing in full all the ties between Gordon Brown and his favourite ‘non-dom’:

  • Lord Paul’s Caparo gave £45,000 to Brown’s Leadership campaign
  • Caparo Industries, a company in the Caparo Group chaired by Lord Paul, gave donations of £25,000 and £20,000 to Gordon Brown’s leadership campaign (Electoral Commission).
  • Pledged to bankroll Labour’s election campaign
  • In August 2007, Lord Paul said to Channel 4 News: ‘all I know is that if there is an election and the money is wanted, whatever I can pay, I will pay...I am a believer in Gordon Brown and his leadership.’
  • When he was asked how much he would be ready to give Labour, he said: ‘As much as I can afford.’ (Lord Paul, reported in The Daily Mail, 22 August 2007)
According to The Sunday Times, ‘other top donors non-domiciled for tax purposes include Lord Paul of Marylebone whose companies have given £400,000 to Labour and who has been appointed Blair's unofficial envoy to the Indian subcontinent’ (Sunday Times, 24 February 2002).

According to The Mail on Sunday, Lord Paul funded Gordon Brown’s private office in opposition: ‘Lord Paul, whose fortune is estimated at £450million, funded Mr Brown's private office in opposition and has pledged to “give whatever he can afford” to help ensure Labour is re-elected.’ (Mail on Sunday, 9 September 2007)

A news story on the Caparo Website reveals that Sarah Brown presented Angad Paul, Lord Paul’s son, with a prize in September 2007:

‘Angad Paul, Caparo Group chief executive officer has received the GG2 Leadership and Diversity award for Entrepreneur of the Year in recognition of his dynamic role in the expansion of the group. ‘Sarah Brown, wife of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, presented the award to Angad, in a ceremony attended by over 800 dignitaries at the prestigious Grosvenor House Hotel in London on September 10th.’

(Caparo Website, 11 September 2007;)

  • Lord Paul bought 6,000 copies of Gordon Brown’s book Courage to distribute to secondary schools (The Times, 25 August 2007).
  • Caparo Group donated £15,700 to Keith Vaz between 1993 and 1997. However, Vaz failed to declare one of these payments which totalled £3,000 (The Daily Telegraph, 22 April 2001; )
I think Graham Stuart's letter deserves a full and frank answer, don't you?


John Moss said...

I think it deserves sending to the Toady Prog, WATO and PM who have all today majored on Cameron's promise to legislate against this and how this will affect Lord Ashcroft, but none of whom - I'm assuming with PM - have mentioned Lord Paul's status as a "major donor" to Labour and a non-Dom.

John said...

I am glad you have posted this Ian, as BBC and Sky do not seem to be covering it. The Labour party are not talking about it, so lets take the story to them.
What about these as well,( I have been posting it around on blogs today to try and get a reaction.

Labour Non Doms
Non-Dom Lord Paul a close freind of Brown who is under investigation over his expenses and who has pledged to give as much as he can to Labour’s election campaign has been made a privy counsellor.
1) Sir Ghulam Noon
2) Baron Swraj Paul
3) Lakshmi Mittal
All non-doms. All bank rolling the Labour Party.

The Liberal Democrats have also received funds from donors domiciled abroad. Bhanu and Dhruv Choudhrie, businessmen who originate from India, have given more than £475,000 through their companies. Bhanu’s father Sudhir Choudhrie is also domiciled abroad and has given the party £95,000.

Lexander said...

Thank you Ian for pusuing this disgraceful appointment. Just what is this country coming to? What other damage will Brown do to what's left of democracy? I wonder what Queenie thinks of it all? Presumably she must have agreed. Trouble is - he is so stinking rich as well.

norman said...

If you want to know about Swaraj Paul or Lord Paul, ask any older opposition MP in India. He/she will tell you more about him and how he supported Mrs Gandhi when she imposed emergency in India when a high court there struck her election down and she was loosing her premiership as a result. He says he came to britain to seek medical help for his daughter but the truth was he was feeling heat becuase of his notoriety there.

Shinsei said...

In addition to John's list of Labour supporting non doms:

Sir Ronald Cohen (private equity baron)

Ron Sandler (Chairman of Northern Rock)

Bill Quango MP said...

We all bought peerages in Tony Blair's last E-£bay auction.Common as scout badges now. But a privy, that's something to impress the neighbours.
How much is a Privy these days?

John M Ward said...

Whatever the truth of this turns out to be, in the meantime it can so very easily be interpreted as Lord Paul having "bought" the position.

Therefore it is vitally important that Lord Mandelson deals with the MP's enquiry in a prompt, comprehensive and unambiguous fashion, in order to kill that line of thought before it has time to fester.

I am of course assuming here that there is an innocent and valid reason for the appointment…

John M Ward said...

In answer to Bill Quango's question of "how much is a privy these days?" I have to answer that it is possibly being offered in loo (ahem!) of something even more valuable.

Jimmy said...

Is this thread for discussing non-dom peers in general or just this one?

norman said...


There is enough baggage that Swaraj Paul has brought to Britain when he left his native country for reasons well known to many older MPs and journalists in India which needs opening. Well, Today programme and Labour-loving Jim Naughtie would not interview Swaraj Paul about this baggage. Neither BBC which has a large presence in India, and particualraly Mark Tully of BBC World Service who knows the country well for over 50 years would not do a documentatry on Swaraj Paul's friends in India before his arrival here. He is not a simple rich non Dom we will discover.

Unsworth said...

Yep it's all this bollocks about Ashcroft and no mention at all of people like the Hindujas, Lord Sainsbury etc etc.

I was astounded by the interview/piece on WATO today. Naked bias, gross prejudice. The sooner the BBC is disbanded and sold off, the better. By no stretch of the imagination is this public service broadcaster neutral.

Jimmy said...

A number of issues are being confused here. There has never been a requirement for peers to be domiciled here (although I agree there should be). The authorities did insist however on residence as a minimum. SFAIK there are three non-resident peers (2 tory 1 x-bench) at present, of which Ashcroft is the most prominent.

The house authorities were assured by No. 10 in 2000 that they had been promised by Ashcroft "unequivocally" that he would establish permanent UK residency by the end of that calendar year. Up to now Cameron's stock response was that he was meeting those commitments. Unfortunately for Cameron it appears from today's telegraph that Ashcroft now denies ever making this promise at all.

This is going to be fun.

norman said...

I am not concerned about non doms but the fun will really start if some one start digging about Swaraj Paul's past and his shenenigans in India then ( some say even today). Wherever and whoever Keith Vaz is involved with one can expect stink.

Alan Douglas said...

Perhaps Lord Paul made his money in toilet paper ? The recent shortages of same in at Westminster would possibly be prevented from reoccurring when he joins the Privy Council ? Services to the nation amd all that.

Alan Douglas

Sentient WV : mantease

Stephen said...

But what about the fact that Caparo owns Film24, a company which was in the press last year for having committed copyright theft on a breathtaking scale? People end up in prison for piracy - yet Film24 claimed ownership of a huge number of films belonging to a large number of copyright holders (Granada, Universal, Canal Plus etc.) in order to show on their channel and give value to the company in order to get investors in. This included a large number of Hitchcock films.

Why has this disgraceful affair been overlooked, beyond an article in The Observer and Private Eye? People are in prison for far less!

Chris Howell said...

Graham has been pursuing this issue in parliament for a while but just gets stonewalled when questions are asked:

This has the makings of a real scandal...

Unsworth said...

Meanwhile the lovely Rachel Sylvester (related to Victor?) of The Times quotes Saint Paul in her latest and lengthy attack on Ashcroft - but, naturally, fails to make any mention of Lord Paul.

Why is that?

Seems to me that Lord Paul's remarkably close association with Brown, and his having to step down as Deputy Speaker of the Lords whilst his 'expenses' are being investigated, are far more newsworthy. Why is this foreign-domiciled man a Privy Councillor as well as a Deputy Speaker? What has he done to deserve these remarkable honours? Just whose palms has he greased?

vervet said...

Unsworth: "Just whose palms has he greased?"

I would add: What is it he knows that need to be supressed?