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.