Michael Brown: Electoral Commission resumes investigation into Lib Dem donations

by Stephen Tall on December 11, 2008

As disclosed by Sir Peter Viggers MP (Con., Gosport), who represents the Speaker’s Committee on the Electoral Commission:

The Electoral Commission informs me that following the recent conclusion of criminal proceedings against Mr. Michael Brown, it has now resumed its investigation into the permissibility of donations made to the Liberal Democrat Party by Mr. Brown in 2005.

The Commission further informs me that it will now aim to conclude the investigation as quickly as possible, but that its priority must be to ensure that the process is fair and thorough.”

Hat-tip to ConservativeHome, though they somehow omitted to quote the 2006 statement by the Electoral Commission which made crystal clear that the Commission believed the Liberal Democrats had acted in good faith in relation to Michael Brown’s £2.4 million donation:

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, totaling just over £2.4m, as permissible.

It remains the Commissions 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.

The Commission had, though, also made it pretty clear they would look again at things when the police case was concluded:

… 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.

You can see the archive of Lib Dem Voice articles relating to Michale Brown here. And, coincidentally, Lib Dem MP David Howarth wrote an article for LDV today explaining how the Lib Dems would reform politcal party financing, if it weren’t for the obstruction of Labour and the Tories.

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I am pleased Stephen that you have recovered those quotes from the electoral commission.
It is the job of the police to investigate suspected wrongdoers and bring them to court if they are breaking the law.
If the police at a particular moment in time do not have reason to bring someone to book, then why should any political party be expected to know any better than them?
A criminal may spend the money he has stolen on various items, but you cannot retreive the stolen money by demanding refunds from everything he bought.
It is amazing this has dragged on for so long, and I suppose it has damaged the reputation of the party accordingly, but there really is no reason to believe that the party has done anything wrong.

The solution to all this – and after all it damages all of the political parties when things like this happen – is to have state funding of political parties.

by Geoffrey Payne on December 11, 2008 at 8:48 pm. Reply #

There’s something quite absurd in suggesting that Labour and the Conservatives are obstructing Lib Dem reforms to party finance reforms. Since when do the Lib Dems get to call the shots? Make a contribution, make suggestions, fine. But claim pre-eminence on this issue? Grow up.

by Old Hack on December 12, 2008 at 8:14 am. Reply #

Old Hack – what’s absurd? who talked about pre-eminence?

Just read David Howarth’s article, making good constructive suggestions for reform. And read how Labour and the Tories have thwarted those reforms, and the discussion of them, to protect their own self-interest.

by Stephen Tall on December 12, 2008 at 8:41 am. Reply #

“It is amazing this has dragged on for so long, and I suppose it has damaged the reputation of the party accordingly, but there really is no reason to believe that the party has done anything wrong.”

Apart from hanging onto a £2.4 million donation from an impermissible donor. You really are as delusional as Gordon Brown.

by Mark Williams on December 12, 2008 at 9:36 am. Reply #

Oh, we forgot again, Mark Williams is the man who decides what donations are permissible or otherwise. As I’ve said many times before – I’m sure you realise it’s not as clear cut as you’d like it to be.

I’d be interested to know if you post about Tory donations abuses on Conhome/equivalent.

by Grammar Police on December 12, 2008 at 10:09 am. Reply #

Was Jeffrey Archer an impermissable donor? Or Jonathan Aitken? How much did they give? How much was returned when they were jailed? I think we should be told.

by Terry Gilbert on December 12, 2008 at 9:07 pm. Reply #

And I seem to recall that a certain Dr Harold Shipman was a Conservative local government candidate.

by Sesenco on December 12, 2008 at 9:23 pm. Reply #

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