This EXCLUSIVE photo shows LibDem Donor Michael Brown with Charles Kennedy at the LibDems Party Conference. Brown is the one on the right with the ponytail. And they say money doesn't buy you access! Brown pleaded guilty to two charges of perjury this morning st Southwark Crown Court. I haven't yet found out what happened about the other 51 charges he was facing. He will be sentenced on 25 September, only three days after the end of the LibDem conference. He faced a jail sentence. The full story is on BBC Online HERE. Hopefully I will have more details later.
UPDATE: This is the FT report from the court.ib Dem donor faces possible jail sentence
Michael Brown, the Liberal Democrats' biggest political donor, was facing a possible jail sentence after pleading guilty on Thursday morning to perjury and passport-related charges at Southwark Crown Court. The Scottish financer, who was arrested in Spain three months ago, will be sentenced in late-September. But a judge indicated that the two counts on which Mr Brown pleaded guilty would normally result in imprisonment.
"On the face of it, a custodial sentence would be appropriate," Judge Geoffrey Rivlin commented. Mr Brown, who gave the Liberal Democrats £2.4m last year, had faced over 30 charges in a private criminal prosecution brought by HSBC bank. The international banking group had initially begun a civil action against the businessman and his company, 5th Avenue Partners, last year, alleging that fraud had occurred in respect of certain bank accounts held with HSBC. As part of those proceedings, the financier swore an affidavit, stating that some of money from those accounts had been used as collateral for trading with Refco, the brokerage company, and generated significant profits. But by December last year, the bank says that it had gathered evidence which it claims demonstrated that statements in the affidavit were false. In respect of the Refco trading, the bank says that it suspected that no such trading had ever taken place at all.
Accordingly, at the bank's request, the Crown Prosecution Service obtained a European Arrest Warrant for Mr Brown, and he was extradited from Spain earlier this year. On Thursday morning, the businessman, dressed in jeans, pleaded guilty to one charge of perjury in respect of that affidavit, admitting that he made a statement "that he knew to be false". The remaining 30 counts in the private criminal prosecution will lie on the court file. Separately, Mr Brown also pleaded guilty to one of two charges brought by the CPS in relations to passport offences. He admitted that he had "made an untrue statement" in order to get a new passport from the Passport Office, by claiming that the old one had been destroyed in a washing-machine.