Give it a rest, guys

by Stephen Tall on November 22, 2006

The determination of The Times to stick one on the Lib Dems for accepting that donation from Michael Brown knows no bounds.

Despite repeated smear and innuendo – craftily spun to try and make the Lib Dems look as guilty as the debt-ridden, peerage-touting Labour and Tory parties – no one has yet been able to gainsay the Electoral Commission’s findings that the party followed proper procedures and acted in good faith.

Maybe we were naïve, maybe even a bit stupid, to accept his largesse. That’s a long, long way from being corrupt.

But, bless ‘em, The Times isn’t going to let it lie – to which end their journalists, in this case their chief political correspondent Anthony Browne, are quite happy to stoop to white lies. Here’s the opening paragraph of his piece in today’s Times:

The Liberal Democrats are facing a new threat of financial meltdown after the Government’s Asset Recovery Agency was called on to investigate the £2.4 million donated by the jailed millionaire Michael Brown.

To which my reaction on first reading was: gulp. It looks like I and others should get ready to write the party a cheque to make good the shortfall.

But then I read on to the final paragraph:

Sources at the agency suggest that it is unlikely to begin an immediate investigation. It would try to recover the money itself only if the police fail to secure a prosecution. Even if the agency does act to confiscate the money, it would try to reclaim the gift from Mr Brown himself.

So there you have it… The Tories have complained about the Lib Dems to a government agency, and their complaint has been swatted aside as irrelevant.

A total non-story.

Just a Tory party press release that found house-room in a sensationalist Daily Mail-style rag which once dared to call itself a paper of record.