Monday, November 26, 2007

45 Words That Shame the Labour Party

"I was aware of arrangements whereby David Abrahams gave gifts to business associates and a solicitor who were permissible donors and who in turn passed them on to the Labour Party and I believed at the time my reporting obligations had been appropriately complied with."

Those were the words of the General Secretary of the Labour Party, Peter Watt, who resigned tonight. They are also the words of either a liar or an incompetent fool.

It is absolutely inconceivable that as General Secretary he did not know that these donations were impermissible. Bear in mind that his previous job was Head of the Labour Party's Legal & Constitutional Unit.

I have been in his position. I had to declare all donations to the David Davis Leadership Campaign to the Registrar of Members' Interests and to the Electoral Commission. I had never had to do anything like this before and approached it with some degree of trepidation in case one mistake by me could be used against David and his campaign. I made sure I understood every part of my responsibilities. Is Peter Watt really expecting us to believe that he was too incompetent to do the same and understand his legal obligations? He also had legal advice from the Labour Party's solicitors to fall back on.

He says he was "aware of the arrangements". This indicates that he knew it to be irregular, but one can only draw the conclusion that he did not seek further legal advice because he knew what that advice would be.

But there is also a wider question, which is this. Is David Abrahams himself a "permissible donor" and has the Labour Party checked? In Peter Watt's statement on the Labour website the words in bold (see the quote above) certainly imply that Abrahams may not have been a permissible donor. At least it doesn’t make it clear that he is/was. As a property developer it is quite possible that he is tax resident offshore, and therefore probably not registered to vote. So, did the Labour Party check whether Abrahams was a permissible donor, and if he is/was not will they return the donation? and if they did check, which register is he on?

Just trying to help.

UPDATE: LibDem Voice has a potentially explosive exclusive, with a copy of an email sent to all political parties in July outlining the rules regarding second-hand donations. Attached was a draft new edition of the Electoral Commission’s guidance on donations. This is what paragraph 4.29 of the document said:

If the original source of the donation is someone other than the individual or organisation that transfers the donation to the party, the individual or organisation making the transfer is acting as an agent for the original donor. Where a person acts as an agent in making a donation, they must ensure that the party is given all the relevant information as listed at paragraph 5.4 (s. 54 (6)). Transferring a donation to an agent rather than directly to a party must not be used as an attempt to evade the controls on permissibility and transparency.

How could Peter Watt ininterpret that? Or did he not read it? According to LibDem Voice's Mark Pack: "This information was in previous editions of the guidance, and was also (using exactly the same words) in the final version published by the Electoral Commission (and available on their website, see page 19)."

Good work, Mr Pack.

UPDATE: Guido has two big breaking stories on this tonight. He reveals HERE that Harriet Harman's deputy leadership campaign received £5,000 from a close associate of David Abrahams (UPDATE: So did Hilary Benn Hilary Benn actually turned a donation from Janet Kidd and then accepted a donation - entirely properly - from David Abrahams directly), and also HERE that Abrahams had an intertesting planning application magically unblocked by wee Dougie Alexander. Natch.

66 comments:

Greg said...

Last week, one of my tutors at university (a specialist in British politics) said that "the last couple of weeks have been eerily similar to the dying days of the Major government - everything Labour do at the moment seems to turn to absolute s**t, it's one f**k up after f**k up."

I wonder what he'll be saying this week.

David said...

Setting aside for a moment the enormity of the ethical/legal issue, is there not a tax implication here? Can one individual hand over 100K or whatever to another to give that money to anything at all in their names without creating a tax obligation? Or is that just for the little people?

Daily Referendum said...

The news that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) have voted in favour of strike action will not help Gordon.

Tony Blair - the smartest and first rat off the ship.

Tony Blair said...

My three priorities in government will be:

Corruption, corruption, corruption

Womble On Tour said...

You can certainly kick a man when he's down, Iain.

Anonymous said...

Did you know that Peter Watt's job prior to become Labour Party General Secretary was Head of the Legal & Constitutional Unit?

Anonymous said...

Indeed, as Labour's former head of legal, he can hardly plead ignorance before the law.

Johnny Norfolk said...

On Newsnight tonight they tried to take the heat off labour by talking about Lord Ashcrofts donations to the Tory party. It has nothing to do about this current story, just more BBC bias for its Labour friends.

How do they get away with it.

Big Andy said...

As a card carrying member of the Labour Party I can only hint here at my anger and disgust.

I was angry enough at the fact that a previous TREASURER was unaware of loans totalling 8 figure sums to the party, but this further breach of standards and probity, suggests that, in effect, the governance of my party is institutionally deceitful to its members and ignorant of their interests.

It is quite obvious that the membership of the Party has absolutely no say whatsoever in how it is organised. No wonder we have such a second rate bunch of MP's and in consequence an abysmally listless and inexperienced collection of ministers.

I had been holding out for Brown to show some competency and possibly even some Social Democracy.

The last few months have been a hammer blow these hopes and the party.

I deeply despair.
The problem is that we let them get away with it. The local parties simply do not hold even their councillors to account, let alone their MP's.

The membership just get fobbed off with big talk about soft issues such as climate change or diversity, whilst the selection of Candidates and the actual governance of the party is left in tatters.

I kept wondering why during the latest leadership election, and in the last couple of years of the Blair premiership, why NO ONE seemed to be questioning how he had performed as PARTY leader. His record here had been abysmal by any yardstick. Membership down, Attendance at Meetings down, Membership Activity down, entryism (of other kinds) up, the party facing insolvency, the reliance on corrupt and highly dubious private support, much of it seemingly with strings attached.

In any real democracy, the members would be absolutely ripping into MP's demanding they do something about the mismanagement of the Party and the direction of the government.
Instead we watch idly as they LIE repeatedly and shamefacedly about their own agenda and the state of our country and party.

And of course, after this latest incident, we are one step closer to state funding of political parties and the severing of any sense of accountability, let alone democracy.

In twenty years time we will have two self annointing political leaderships effectively unaccountable to the outside world. What are the odds that at that point there will be a real push for proportional representation and party lists.

We are all sleep walking into a nightmare.

Big Andy

ambulance for gordon said...

It can't be long now.

Tone made me do it - he's a bad influence said...

Two scandals out of Newcastle in 2 months?

If they are in someway linked then.....

David Boothroyd said...

The donations are permissible, and nothing in Peter Watt's statement says or implies otherwise. The Electoral Commission quote shows that there is no duty on the party to say if the donation has come from an agent: it's the responsibility of the agent and of the donor to report it.

Better luck next try but I'm sure it will all go down very well in Maidstone.

Iain Dale said...

Next you'll be saying, move along, nothing to see. You astonish me. You are far too intelligent not to recognise the implications of this and that Peter Watt has acted improperly. Or was he wrong to resign?!

Alex said...

One of the comments on GF's blog points to a report from the Durham City Council that shows that Abraham's development by the A1(M) was adopted the Offic of the Deputy Prime Minister as a pilot scheme for fast tracking planning applications. It went through in 3 months. Banged to rights I would say.

Alex said...

Boothroyd:

It is incumbent on the treasurer to ensure that the donation reports submitted to the Electoral Commission are correct and he commits an offence if he knowing makes a false declaration under section 66 PPERA 2000. Watt admits that he kmew the donations came from another source. End of story.

David Boothroyd said...

The inappropriate thing Peter Watt did was in not telling David Abrahams "Don't be stupid, you've got to declare that it's really you". A fairly obvious mistake. He clearly did nothing illegal; the question is over whether David Abrahams (who is resident in the north east as you would know if you watched Newsnight - they showed a picture of his house) was acting legally in not declaring that he was the real source of the money.

Jill, London said...

As a Conservative activist, I am not privy to the internal machinations of the Labour Party. So thank you Big Andy for your insight. The Labour Party sounds mind-numbingly undemocratic which is totally at odds with their public persona. But why am I surprised when Gordon Brown states quite openly he would like to see the demise of the Conservative Party – another undemocratic act! Indeed, in order to achieve that aim, the Labour Government has brought in all sorts of legislation in order to protect their own interests - whilst - they hope - trip up the Conservatives. This is also in keeping with their mantra of ‘don’t do as I do, but do as I say’.

But nemesis follows hubris, and it would be laughable – if it weren’t so serious - that the Labour Party's General Secretary is ignorant of his own government's legislation regarding political donations. And MPs from other parties are saying he ought to be prosecuted for breaking electoral law.

As for the idea of state party funding because of the Labour Party/Government’s incompetence at funding themselves - why should I – and others – literally pay? I want a say where my hard earned money goes, and I don’t want it helping Lefty political parties!

bobby said...

Move along! Nothing to see.

Lobster Blogster said...

It all makes the news that the Lib Dems have upped sticks and fled their party offices in Watford seem a bit mundane.

Big Andy said...

Mr Boothroyd,

Why do you talk about legality here?

Mr Watt has deliberately been party to an attempt at misleading both the Labour party membership and the wider electorate as to the true source of party funds.

We have only his and Mr Abrahams word that this secrecy was not untoward and that the donation was not intended to sway policy or patronage.

How you fail to address this, but in fact choose to skirt around issues of legality, baffles me.

When political parties obfuscate regards the source of their funding they are left open to accusations of corrupt practice.

How is this not so?

Big Andy

Jilted John said...

Please please let the planning story be true

jonathan hemlock said...

Iain:

If we've all learned nothing else since 1997, it's that the Labour Party [or the Nu-Labour Party] have lost the ability to understand what the word

SHAME

means.

From everything we've seen in the past ten years, I can only conclude that it means:

"Fill your boots before the balloon goes up, lads."

Or am I just being cynical?

ak23566 said...

Anyone, from any political Party, who deals with donations and the PPERA procedure, will know this entire story is a load of bull.

Every donation has to be recorded - even the odd £5 for raffle tickets. Donations over £200 have to go through a separate complicated procedure.

1. The donors name and address have to be recorded on an Electoral Commission reporting form

2. You then have to enter the donors current electoral roll number to prove they are registered to vote in the.

3. you then need to sign a statement to confirm that to the best of your knowledge the donation in permissible under the PPERA and take legal responsibility for the information you have provided.

Is the Labour Party seriously calming that some random bloke from a council estate in Newcastle sends an unexpected cheque for approaching a third of a million pounds and no-one investigates ?

Like the Conservatives, Labour maintains a database of members and supporters. They will also have access, as we have, to marked registers. Did no-one at Labour HQ think it was a bit odd that the donor was not even a party member? Or even more bizarre - did they not ask why a man who did not even bother voting at the last election is suddenly writing six-figure cheques out of the blue.

Did they not ask these questions because they didn't want to know the answers? OR did they already know the answers and therefore decided not to ask the questions. In either case they are either institutionally corrupt or institutionally incompetent. Take your pick!

Tameside Eye said...

Would you class Ask Property Developments £5000 donation to the Labour party prior to the SuperCasinos bid as second hand? Mick Hucknall does own 17% of the company.

Alex said...

Boothroyd. You are wrong and you are a complete twit. Read s66 PPERA 200. In particular read subsection 5 and then read Peter Watt's resignation statement where he says he was responsible for all compliance matters on donations.

66 Declaration by treasurer in donation report
(1) Each donation report under section 62 or 63 must, when delivered to the Commission, be accompanied by a declaration made by the treasurer which complies with subsection (2), (3) or (4).
(2) In the case of a report under section 62 (other than one making a nil return), the declaration must state that, to the best of the treasurer’s knowledge and belief—
(a) all the donations recorded in the report as having been accepted by the party are from permissible donors, and
(b) during the reporting period—
(i) no other donations required to be recorded in the report have been accepted by the party, and
(ii) no donation from any person or body other than a permissible donor has been accepted by the party.
(3) For the purposes of subsection (2) a return under section 62 makes a nil return if it contains such a statement as is mentioned in subsection (10) of that section; and in the case of such a report the declaration must state that, to the best of the treasurer’s knowledge and belief—
(a) that statement is accurate; and
(b) during the reporting period no donation from any person or body other than a permissible donor has been accepted by the party.
(4) In the case of a report under section 63, the declaration must state that, to the best of the treasurer’s knowledge and belief, no donations have been received by the party, or (if section 63(3)(b) applies) by its central organisation, during the reporting period which—
(a) are required to be recorded in the report, but
(b) are not so recorded.
(5) A person commits an offence if he knowingly or recklessly makes a false declaration under this section.

canvas said...

Harriet Harman should be holding a press conference. She is the Chairman of the Labour Party - surely she knows who the big donors are?

hhhhmmmm. Weird stuff going on. A 'mystery' or a 'cover-up'?

Labour should pay back the money - or give it to charity.

The Tories should be vigilant about their donations too.

Johnny Norfolk said...

Only 3 newspapers carried this headline story on their front page this morning. ( one of them The Guardian to its credit). It just shows what sway the Labour party carries with the press.

Anonymous said...

There's a great comment on the online version of the Times on this.

What's happened to our caring and compassionate society?

Mr Abrahams and Mr McCarthy have given six figure sums to the Labour Party. Why, in the 21st century, are we vilifying the mentally ill?


Classic!

Lilith said...

Why would we take Abraham's word for anything? He has lied about his age, his identity, and sought to deceive the electorate about his marital status when running for parliament. He is clearly a crook.

Enjoying the cornflakes today said...

More on the planning application please, that is really interesting!

Anonymous said...

Watt's resignation communique: Mr Abrahams gave GIFTS to associates who passed them on to the Labour Party.If I was a jobbing builder or secretary and someone GIFTED me £200,000 , I wouldn't 'PASS IT ON'.IF this is reported fairly,Labour are SUNK.

Anonymous said...

As a labour member, i think its wrong to start moaning about ashcroft as they did on newsnight. He b"£$%red up plain and simple, no excuse given the circumstances of the previous problems of financing. In response to your question.... I think he's just a touch incompatent. (Bless him he is about 12!)

Trouble with this story is the other parties have to take it a bit easy on them. The Libs had that dodgy criminal as there largest donor, UKIP have had problems and yes, even the tories arent whiter than white.

Thats why the response fro tories is that "the govt is in crisis" and the lib "a can of worms open on the debate" etc. No real and direct criticism.

Also, I do like how the media criticise political parties for their donations. When the sun and times are subsidised by the proposterous RM and dirty desomond owns the express.

john miller said...

Same old same old

The time honoured NuLab excuse.

"I am not a crook just an incompetent tosspot who had no idea that was the law"

Every single damned one of them has used it. Never seems to work for me though...

Trumpeter Lanfried said...

Why did Abrahams want to keep his identity secret?

NuLab astroturfer said...

This is an old story Iain.In fact it's a non-story. Just an honest mistake by a hardworking servant of the people, not like the sleazy tories who were all very bad and sleazy and bad and everything is their fault.

[repeat ad nauseam]

(“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.” - J Goebbels

tapestry said...

Gordon Brown must have known about these scams.

freedom to prosper said...

This is their "Poll Tax" moment and they face years in the wilderness. However the cops MUST get involved due to the money laundering aspect and the lack of questions. When I lent my son some money to save him loosing his house following a divorce I got the third degree from solicitors and the banks. A jobbing builder pays huge sums into a bank account and it doesn't raise any enquiries? It seems he is not a party member so how did they accept the donation? If you were a successful buisness person would you donate to Labour? The party of free enterprise, of low taxation and red tape cutting? Of course you wouldn't. Shades of Poulson and Kagan mark my words. On a brighter note if it gets rid of Harman everybody will rejoice.

The Huntsman said...

Well spotted on the terminology.

Does anyone have access to the electoral registers to see if Mr. Abrhams or Mr. Martin (or whatever he calls himself at any given moment) was registered at the relevant dates?

I have an updated post at http://tinyurl.com/2mv3lm which looks at further possibilities of offences under s. 61 of PPERA 2000 by officers of the Labour Party and others.


This is brewing up very nicely.

I have linked you and acknowledged accordingly.

Johnny Norfolk said...

It was the presenter on Newsnight last night who brought up Lord Ashton not the Labour party person. Oh sorry same thing.

simon said...

We have had PLENTY evidence that Labour is the most corrupt of the lot of 'em out there. Murky trade union deals, Ecclestone, cash-for-honours,and now- Abrahams-gate! The thing is, none of this surprises me in the slightest. Wait for the 'public funding for political parties' brigade to come out in force now. No way, would i want my taxes to go toward supporting bankrupt, corrupt, despotic 'elected' politicians. Wait a minute, they already do! BUGGER- a pox on the lot of 'em! Where's me guillotine... I suspect the French had the right idea when a ruling elite become so far removed from the people they say they 'serve'.

tapestry said...

From The Huntsman's Blog

AbrahamsGate Timeline

06 May 2003: Janet Kidd, a secretary working for Mr Abrahams, donates £25,000 to Labour.
18 Aug 2003: Ray Ruddick, a jobbing builder, makes £25,000 donation.
01 Apr 2004: Mrs. Kidd donates £10,000.
27 Oct 2004: Mrs. Kidd donates £2,000.
05 Feb 2005: Mr. McCarthy donates 25,000
29 Jul 2005: Durham Green Developments submits plans for Durham Green Business Park
05 Oct 2005: Highways Agency blocks plans for Durham Green Business Park.
22 Dec 2005: Mr. McCarthy donates £52,125
23 Dec 2005: Mr Ruddick donates £17,850, Mrs Kidd £30,000.
31 Mar 2006: Plans for business park withdrawn.
21 Apr 2006: Mr. McCarthy donates £50,000
24 May 2006: Mr Ruddick donates £50,000.
02 Aug 2006: Business park plans resubmitted.
18 Sep 2006: Highways Agency withdraws objections.
19 Oct 2006: Durham County Council grants planning permission.
22 Jun 2007: Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, registers £5,000 donation from Mr Abrahams to his campaign for Labour's deputy leadership.
27 Jun 2007: Gordon Brown becomes Prime Minister.
29 Jun 2007: Mr Ruddick donates £24,000, Mrs Kidd £38,000.
07 Jul 2007: Mr Ruddick and Mrs Kidd make £80,000 donations.
17 Jul 2007: Harriet Harman registers £5,000 donation from Mrs Kidd to her victorious campaign for the Labour's deputy leadership.
20 Nov 2007: Official figures show that since Mr Brown became Prime Minister, Mr Ruddick and Mrs Kidd were Labour's third biggest donors.
25 Nov 2007: Mr Abrahams admits it was his money that had gone to Labour via Mrs Kidd and Mr Ruddick.
26 Nov 2007: Peter Watt admits he knew of donations and resigns as Labour general secretary.

IS SEEMS IMPOSSIBLE THAT BROWN DIDN"T KNOW ABOUT THESE GOINGS-ON

Danvers said...

Does anyone else share my sneaky suspicion that the Labour Party have got Diane Hayter to answer questions about this because she is well spoken or just quite posh. On Newsnight last night, she even wore a blue suit. Maybe they are hoping that subliminally, voters will think she is a Tory, or that people who just catch part of an interview will assume she is.

Bit like the old trick that canvassers use when they have woken up a shift worker "Good afternoon, so sorry to disturb you. I am campaigning on behalf of [insert opponents name here]."

poohbear said...

Expect to see wholesale defections from the NuLabour regime now.
I truly pity the honest Labour party members who have seen their party hijacked and destroyed by some of the most self serving and corrupt crooks ever to call themselves polititians! I must admit that in my joy over the coming downfall of the ZANULAB elite I plain forgot the plight of the many good people who have seen their party and heritage flushed away by a bunch of common criminals!
We should not take any pleasure in the destructiion of the Labour party because there are many good people who are going to suffer the consequences of this tragedy.

simon said...

Re: Tapestry's last post a few random words came into my head:- murky, convoluted, tax, fiddle, inland, revenue, investigation.

Roger Thornhill said...

As I have said before, New Labour have had their "moral compass" demagnetised long ago.

If Labour go on like this for long, it increases the chances of a split, IMHO, between the honourable and the Political Classes. Gordon will be caught between two stools, but considering he has always been half-arsed, I expect him to be falling flat upon it rather sharpish.

jafo said...

Shouldn't we also ask what the alleged donors' Banks were doing all this time? Aren't they supposed to be looking out for money laundering activities? Don't want to be unkind about Raymond Ruddick but he didn't look like a chap who routinely had huge amounts of dosh galloping in and out of his bank account. So when £80,000 pops into the account one day and pops out the next, shouldn't the bank have made some enquiries, provenance wise? Particularly when the same thing happened the next month........

As far as the Labour Party former compliance officer who didn't know what compliance meant is concerned - haven't they tried this "I'm a lovely person but I'm just a bit thick" routine rather too often? Perhaps an interviewer ought to ask whether the Party's employees and representatives are stupid or criminal - because it's one or the other, and neither is desirable as an electoral selling point.

The Creator said...

According to the Mail, the CPS have now been called in ...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/news/news.html?in_article_id=496689&in_page_id=1770

Travis Bickle said...

Whiter than white indeed.

I would suggest the many voters who have always supported the Labour party might step back to consider if one of their reasons was to fight rich businessmen and property developers who could throw millions at their chosen party in return for favourable treatment. I know, if alive today, my mother would have said that this is not the Labour Party she supported all her life.

mutleythedog said...

I am planning to apply to build an abattoir and a aluminium smelting plant.. can anyone advise on the appropriate 'donation' please? Also do you they might throw in a peerage at half price?

poohbear said...

My own uncle was an old Labour man to the core, fought in the war, NUM official, local government, magistrate and honoured by the Queen, he ended his days in a council house, his health destroyed by his years at the coal face on his knees hacking out coal with a pick axe!
I hated his politics and we were split as a family when the 1984 strike occured BUT he was an honest man and a good man! He loved his Party and his country and if he could see what Bliar and Brown have done to his beloved party he would have cried!
To hear the likes of Boothroyd making pathetic cover up excuses for the crooked goings on of NuLabour makes me quite sick!
If Boothroyd was a true Labour man he would be moving Heaven and Earth to rid his party of its current cancer.

Anonymous said...

Hilary Benn was originally offered the donation from Janet Kidd, but refused it until it came in the name of David Abrahams.
Benn obviously saw this one coming (or his Dad did & told him) and comes out of it rather well, relatively speaking, obviously...
Not only do his propriety & probity remain intact, he also trousered the £5k! I bet he's glad he didn't win now.
I expect to see Hillary moving, crab-like, to the fringes of the administration & preparing for a swift dis-embarcation shortly before NuLab 'go nuclear'.
In the imagined smoking ruins of the Labour Party, only a small, brave few could possibly rise again. I think Mr. Benn is trying to make sure he's one of them.

blue blood donor said...

Maybe I am just thick but doesnt:

"Where a person acts as an agent in making a donation, they must ensure that the party is given all the relevant information as listed at paragraph 5.4 (s. 54 (6))."

imply that there are allowable circumstances where a donation can be made through an agent. What are they? That the party is aware of who made the original donation? In this case it seems they were.

And
"Transferring a donation to an agent rather than directly to a party must not be used as an attempt to evade the controls on permissibility and transparency."

why else would a donor use an agent other than to cover up their identity or evade the controls?

This seems like extremely poor regulation agreed, I understand, by all parties.

Newmania said...

I must start reading the huntsmans Blog! Brillaint , thanks tap

Lurkingblackhat said...

Anyone notice this part of the statement

"I was aware of...."

This does not seem to me a man saying I set it up, more like I was made aware.

From Huntsman's blog the time line for these donations start no later than May 2003.

http://thehuntsman2007.blogspot.com/2007/11/labours-offence-is-rank-it-smells-to.html

Peter Wyatt was not made General Secretary until November 2005.

http://www.labour.org.uk/General_Secretary

The chronology is wrong for a one man show. There has to be far more fingers in this pie at Labour.

David Boothroyd said...

The Midlands Industrial Council has given the Conservative Party £1,417,570.23. This organisation is a funnel for businessmen to disguise donations to the Conservative Party; it has voluntarily revealed the names of its members but not how much they give, and there is no guarantee that the names revealed are accurate and complete. Will Conservatives now reveal all about who is really behind the Midlands Industrial Council?

Iain Dale said...

David, dear oh dear. Another day another smear. Concentrate on the issue in hand without trying some diversioary tactics. The problem with your assertion is that the MIC hasn't broken Electoral Commission rules. Your Party blatantly has. Why not just admit it, hold your hands up and say it was a bad mistake?

Carl Gardner said...

Self-promotion, I know, Iain - sorry - but you might be interested in my post today on Head of Legal on the legalities behind this.

I don't agree with David Boothroyd: it's not obvious on what we know so far that no offences have been committed. Whether Peter Watts has committed an offence under section 66 or section 148 depends on exactly what he said to the party treasurer. And Janet Kidd may have committed an offence under Schedule 7, in relation to the Harriet Harman donation, unless she told them Abrahams was the true donor - in which case the buck passes to someone on the Harman team to explain what they did and said given their "Watts" knowledge of the background.

Carl Gardner said...

Sorry! I meant section 61 and section 148. I was Boothroyded onto the wrong section for a mo.

David Boothroyd said...

What are we to make, Carl, of the fact that your blog post persistently refers to a 'Peter Watts' when the ex-General Secretary is actually called Peter Watt? Not a good start. You also seem unaware that the Treasurer of the Labour Party in Electoral Commission terms is ex officio the General Secretary.

David Abrahams is clearly a permissible donor so s. 61(1) does not come into it. s. 61(2) applies to misleading the treasurer, so that might cause problems for David Abrahams and his agents but not for Peter Watt. As far as s. 66, the donations did come to the party through the agents, and that was what was declared.

You see the problem for you is that the PPERA was drafted on the assumption that the party would not know if donations were being made through agents.

poohbear said...

Mutleythedog,

500,000 pounds should do it AND if you can shove in a bit of 'green' drivel about your hatred of CO2 and a Hundred grand bung to a greenie should help! Oh and 500.00 in the back pocket of an EU trade commisar or three might be very useful along with the promise to only employ hundreds of British workers for British jobs(Gordon Brown likes that) but then only employ asylum seekers/gypsies/Eurotrash Etc. Oh and another million in bribes to the local government to get through planning Etc and then you would be set!
Or you could just go to China and set up there for nothing!
Everyone else has!

Carl Gardner said...

David,

I think the answer to your question what to make of the fact that I've got Peter Watt's name wrong is - not much. Obviously a minor mistake like that is irrelevant.

Thanks for pointing out that Labour's general secretary acts as its treasurer for these purposes. That's interesting! And a bit odd since he's not actually the treasurer. But there you are.

You're quite right that section 61(1) doesn't come into it - that's what my post says.

But you're wrong that PPERA was drafted on the assumption the party would not know donations were being made through agents. section 54(6) shows that that's wrong: it requires agents to inform the party if the money comes from another person and it makes clear that the other person, not the agent, is the donor.

So it was clearly wrong to report Kidd and Ruddick as the donors, in the 3rd quarter report. You seem to be implying it wasn't wrong, but then why's Labour giving the money back, and why's Gordon Brown saying it was wrongly reported?

I think this shows there's a loophole in the legislation: obviously PPERA needs to be amended to make it an offence for the treasurer to make a declaration in respect of any report if he knows that report is misleading in relation to the identity of any donor.

David Boothroyd said...

Well, well Carl, can I take your admission that the Act needs to be amended to remove a 'loophole' as an acknowledgment that it is far from clear that what was actually done by the Labour Party was in contravention of the Act.

PS It was widely canvassed during the Yates witchhunt that the Treasurer of the Labour Party was a largely ceremonial post and that the Gen Sec was Treasurer for legal purposes.

Carl Gardner said...

No, David, you can't take it as that. Maybe you'd better read my latest post on this!

What Labour did was clearly in contravention of PPERA - and Labour are admitting that across the airwaves today, so I don't know why you don't, too.

And since Watt was the treasurer, that raises the question whether he may have committed an offence under section 65(4) since, in wrongly identifying the donor, he failed to comnply with the reporting requirements.

And Labour could be liable to a civil penalty under section 147.

Do you say I'm wrong on the law?

Carl Gardner said...

So no loophole after all, I'm glad to say!

Carl Gardner said...

A few more thoughts, specifically on Harriet Harman.

If Janet Kidd failed to tell Harriet Harman's team the money was really from Abrahams, then she may have committed an offence under paragraph 6(5) of Schedule 7 to PPERA.

If she did, but a team member failed to tell Harman, then that team member may have committed an offence under section 61(2), which applies because of para. 9 of Schedule 7 (with Harriet in effect being her own treasurer).

And if Harriet Harman knew (which she denies of course) then she could have committed an offence under para. 12(2) of Schedule 7.

Jilted john said...

Presumably David Boothroyd is not really as stupid as he appears, and this is a vain attempt to persuade us that people can be a stupid as Peter Watt is pretending to be in the hope of avoiding prosecution.