The LibDems were faced tonight with the prospect of having to pay back the £2.4 donation received from Michael Brown (left), who was arrested in Spain today on 53 charges allege forgery, perjury, dishonesty, perverting the course of justice and obtaining a passport by deception. The Crown Prosecution Service applied for a European arrest warrant for Mr Brown on behalf of the HSBC, which is conducting private criminal proceedings itself under the Prosecution of Offences Act. The Serious Organised Crime Agency confirmed that Brown’s arrest was not linked to any investigation by British police.
I can exclusively reveal that the charges relate to the sum of a massive £26 million which has 'gone missing'. This will be very worrying for the LibDem Treasurer Lord Razall, who was Charles Kennedy's link man on the £2.4 million donation. If HSBC can prove that the £2.4 million donation was part of the missing £26 million they may well try to force the LibDems to repay the money. This would bankrupt the Party. I have sought some off the cuff legal advice on this and I am told that there are two ways HSBC could achieve the aim. They would have to prove that the LibDems were either 'criminally reckless' in accepting the money without doing proper 'due diligence' or prove they were 'negligent'. In that case HSBC would pursue the LibDems through the civil courts. We already know that Razall failed to conduct any checks into the operation of Brown's Swiss based company before accepting the donation. I think it would be difficult to prove that the LibDems were 'criminally reckless' but negligence might well be possible. There will be some very damp chairs in the Cowley Street Treasurers Office this evening... Hat-tip to Guido for the criminal mugshot of Michael Brown