Michael Brown goes on trial

by Stephen Tall on November 10, 2008

The Press Association reports:

One of the Liberal Democrats’ biggest donors is due to stand trial accused of fraud. Michael Brown, 42, who gave £2.4m to the party in the run-up to the 2005 General Election, faces 16 offences.

Apart from fraud-related allegations, the Glasgow-born businessman is charged with money laundering, theft and perverting the course of justice. The case will be heard at London’s Southwark Crown Court.

As Lib Dem Voice never tires of reminding readers – to even up the fact that the rest of the media can’t be bothered to report all the facts – this was the verdict of the independent Electoral Commission on the Lib Dems’ probity in this matter:

The Electoral Commission has previously made clear its view that it was reasonable for the Liberal Democrats – based on the information available to them at the time – to regard the donations they received from 5th Avenue Partners Ltd in 2005, totalling just over £2.4m, as permissible.

“It remains the Commission’s view that the Liberal Democrats acted in good faith at that time, and the Commission is not re-opening the question of whether the party or its officers failed to carry out sufficient checks into the permissibility of the donations.”

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But as the readers never tire of reminding the editors of this blog, the Electoral Commission went on to say:

“Nevertheless, we have always said that if any additional information that has a bearing on the permissibility of the donations comes to light, for example as a result of the ongoing police investigation or legal proceedings relating to the affairs of 5th Avenue, we would consider the matter further.

It is not clear to the Commission that 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was carrying on business in the UK at the time the donations were made. If not, then the donations were impermissible. Under Section 58 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the Commission has the power to apply to a court for an order that the party must forfeit to the Consolidated Fund an amount equal to the value of any impermissible donation. We are considering the available evidence and expect to reach a decision on whether to apply for such an order in the next few weeks.”

Hope that helps.

by Mark Williams on November 10, 2008 at 10:45 pm. Reply #

Mark – and as I never tire of saying: whether the money was Michael Brown’s to give away is a very different question from whether the Lib Dems acted in good faith.

I’ve no problems with the story being reported as long as it’s reported fairly – which includes making clear the Electoral Commission exonerated the Lib Dems of any kind of fraud or duplicity.

by Stephen Tall on November 10, 2008 at 10:50 pm. Reply #

Stephen, Just so lon as you make it clear that the Electoral Commission have not closed their enquiries and that there remains a possibility not only that the Lib dems may be required to forfeit a non-permissible donation, but also that there could still be prosecutions for failing to return an impermissible donation.

by Mark Williams on November 13, 2008 at 3:06 am. Reply #

when will you guys wake up and not be like the United States. Have a back bone and stand up to the truth. Follow the monry back and you will see how tainted it is. Also who in the right mind gives 10 million pounds to invest to someone with very little or no track record in investment. How clean was this money that was given to Mr. brown. Follow that money back and you will find it was dirty.

by Over the Pond on November 14, 2008 at 11:27 am. Reply #

“Just so lon as you make it clear that the Electoral Commission have not closed their enquiries”

I doubt the Electoral Commission ever “close” an enquiry. If subsequent compelling information came to light they would always have the option to revisit a donation. They may well get to the stage where they stop actively looking for information.

“How clean was this money that was given to Mr. brown. Follow that money back and you will find it was dirty.”

It’s pretty well accepted that Martin Edward’s money came from the sale of Manchester United. Not really dirty in any legal sense. (though views may depend on what people think of the Glazers :-))

by Hywel Morgan on November 14, 2008 at 12:49 pm. Reply #

Brown has been found guilty. The money he gave to the Liberal Democrats was not his to give. Time to give it back so it can go to the rightful owners, I think.

by David Boothroyd on November 28, 2008 at 3:40 pm. Reply #

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