Cash for Peerages, otherwise known as cash for honours or cash for coronets, loans for peerages, etc is the latest in a long series of scandals to hit the British Labour government. Specifically the allegation is that the government has been granting peerage titles in return for cash donations, loans and other political favours.
It must be said that raising money by the sale of peerage titles (or indeed any other kind of honour) is a time- honoured practice in the United Kingdom
; as the historian Kenneth Rose
once commented, "The sale of honours to replenish party funds or their bestowal in return for political support is as old as parliamentary government itself
." Since being rich was once regarded as one of the essential qualifications of receiving a peerage title there has always been a tendency to view it as only fair that the grantee should part with some of his cash in return for the honour bestowed.
In the days before parliamentary government became established British monarchs were known to supplement their income by the sale of honours; James I became particularly notorious in this regard and even went so far as to invent the baronetage purely to keep up the cash flow. Almost as soon as Parliament established its ascendancy over the crown it too was taking advantage of the opportunities on offer and such illustrious names as Robert Walpole and William Pitt are all believed to have accepted cash in return for the award of titles.
At the beginning of the last century David Lloyd-George was to be found openly touting the sale of honours, with a fixed tariff (starting at £50,000 for a basic barony; see Lloyd George and the Honours Scandal). Such was the scandal that arose when the practice became public knowledge that his successor was forced to pass the Honours (Preventions of Abuses) Act 1925 that specifically prohibited the sale of honours, and set up a Political Honours Scrutiny Committee, to review those honours that were awarded. Such legal safeguards however have not entirely removed the problem. As the journalist John Grigg1 put it, "Nobody holding the job of Prime Minister could fail to abuse the Honours system to some degree. The temptation is too great to be resisted by any human being".
Those that have succumbed to the temptation (allegedly) include Harold Wilson, who was Prime Minister from 1964 to 1970 and again from 1974 to 1976, and became fairly notorious for handing out peerages to compliant newspapermen and favoured businessmen (as in the notorious Lavender List), whilst Margaret Thatcher was said to have ruthlessly exploited the honours system to raise funds for the Conservative Party. The same has been said of her immediate successor John Major, and as to Tony Blair well, he has appointed more peers than any other British Prime Minister in history, including amongst their number almost every major donor to the Labour Party.
New Labour, funding and the House of Lords
Tony Blair led New Labour to victory in the May 1997 General Election on a promise of being "tough on sleaze, tough on the causes of sleaze" and sought to establish a reputation for honesty and probity in contrast to the public perception of corruption that had tainted the last years of the Conservative government of John Major. However within months of coming to power Labour was embroiled in its own scandal, after it was revealed that the party had received a £1m donation from Bernie Eccleston, the owner of Formula 1, shortly before the government had announced that Formula 1 racing had been exempted from the proposed ban on tobacco sponsorship and advertising. There were also allegations that the party's new found enthusiasm for a ban on hunting was not unconnected with a further £1m donation from an anti-hunting campaign organization. The Labour Party subsequently returned Eccleston's money and passed the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, which inter alia, required parties to disclose the names of donors who contributed more than £5,000, banned all foreign donations, and established the Electoral Commission to ensure compliance with these new rules.
New Labour also brought their reforming zeal to bear on the question of the House of Lords. Although the practice of creating new hereditary peers had essentially ceased in 1964, the hereditaries remained in a majority in the upper house. This came to an end with the House of Lords Act 1999 which removed the automatic right of hereditary peers to sit in the House of Lords. The Act also introduced new arrangements regarding the creation of new life peers or 'working peers'. Prospective new peers were nominated by a party and forwarded by the Prime Minister's office, which would then submit the nominations for review by a newly created House of Lords Appointments Commission.2
Such nominations were accompanied by a certification document which was supposed to disclose the financial relationship (if any) between the nominee and the nominating party, whilst it is standard practice for the Appointments Commission to carry out checks with various government agencies such as the Inland Revenue, the Department of Trade and Industry, the Department of Health, the Serious Fraud Office and even MI5.
How the modern Labour Party is funded
Once upon a time the Labour Party was largely funded by the Trades Unions; as recently as 1992 the Unions provided two thirds of the party's income, but by 2005 that had shrunk to a quarter. This was partly because the unions themselves were not so big and wealthy as they once were, partly because New Labour was not that keen on being seen to be a party bought and paid for by the unions, and partly because the unions were not that keen on funding a party which now appeared unsympathetic to their concerns. The shortfall had been bridged by approaching wealthy individuals and businessmen and persuading them to donate to the party.
Comparisons made between honours lists and lists of Labour Party donors revealed that 80 per cent of the money raised from individuals by Labour had come from people whom it had subsequently honoured, and that every donor who had handed over more than £1 million had subsequently been given a peerage or a knighthood. A particular case in point being that of Paul Drayson who donated £100,000 to the Labour Party at about the same that his company Powderject was negotiating a government contract for the supply of vaccines, was subsequently awarded a peerage on the 1st May 2004 and six weeks later on the 17th June presented the Labour Party with a cheque for £500,000. 4
Since Labour had determined that all political parties disclose the names of their major donors such comparisons were easy to make and resulted in much unfavourable comment in the media often combined with allegations of corruption and favouritism. Many would-be donors became reluctant to be seen to be donating money to the party, for fear of being the targets of such unfavourable publicity. (Not to mention the unhappiness in Labour's own ranks, since many were uneasy with the spectacle of the People's Party being funded by an assortment of millionaires.)
With potential donors now thin on the ground, by the beginning of 2005 the Labour Party was heading for a financial crisis. It needed money to finance the coming General Election and it had just been told by its bank that its £11.5m overdraft could not be extended. Matt Carter, then general secretary of the Labour Party approached Michael Levy, formally known as Lord Levy or informally as 'Lord Cashpoint' thanks to his prior success in raising large sums of money to fund the cause, in order to discuss how this crisis might be averted. Levy suggested that Labour adopt the Conservative Party's practice of seeking loans rather than donations. As Levy explained, whereas the law demanded the disclosure of donations, there was no requirement to similarly disclose such loans so long as these were on a 'commercial basis', thus providing anonymity for the generous benefactor.
As it later came to be known, Levy began approaching potential donors and explained that they would be "doing the Prime Minister a favour" if they lent the Labour Party money. In this manner he raised some £14m from twelve individuals which largely financed its 2005 General Election campaign. What also become clear is that this funding operation was run out of Downing Street and was known only to Tony Blair, the aforementioned Lord Cashpoint and Matt Carter, effectively forming what might be regarded as a party within a party. Apparently not even John Prescott and Gordon Brown were aware of what was going on.
The 2005 Peerage Nominations
In the summer of 2005 the government submitted a list of names of proposed new peers to the Appointments Commission which included eleven Labour nominees, eight Conservatives, five Liberal Democrats, three members of the Democratic Unionist Party, and one member of the Ulster Unionist Party. It later emerged that there was originally a 29th name on the list which had been rejected by Downing Street. The missing name was that of the Green Party chairman Hugo Charlton. Apparently some surprise had been expressed over the Green Party's nomination of their party chairman for a peerage title, not least in the Green Party itself as Mr Charlton appears to have nominated himself without discussing it with his colleagues.3
As it happens the Commission had already become concerned about allegations that political parties were handing out peerages to significant donors and had already issued a warning to Downing Street that it would be paying close attention to the names submitted this time round. It soon became clear that they were taking the time. In the normal course of events an announcment was expected in October of the names of the new working peers, but October came and went without any word. In November the complete list of nominees was leaked to the press and resulted in headlines such as 'Sleaze row as election donors get peerages' and led Martin Bell to comment that "The sale and purchase of peerages has reached a level, I would say, not known since the time of Lloyd George."
The members of the Commission were, it seems, concerned over three specific names on the Labour list, all of whom were known to have donated money to the Labour Party. Firstly there was David Garrard who had been criticised for his involvement, through his property company Minerva5, in the collapse of the department store Allders into insolvency which resulted in the company's pension scheme facing a deficit of some £70m; secondly Barry Townsley whose stockbroking firm Insinger Townsley had acted as an adviser to the AIM listed Langbar International which had somehow mislaid £365m and was now the subject of an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office; and finally Chai Patel owner of Priory Healthcare, whose business had attracted considerable negative publicity (particularly in Private Eye) as a result of alleged poor standards in some of the care homes he had been responsible for. Concerns also seem to have been raised about one of the Conservative nominees, Robert Edmiston, a car importer and a significant Conservative Party donor.
In January 2006 the Appointments Commission met to consider their options and appears to have made it clear to Tony Blair that, in their opinion, Messrs Patel, Garrard and Townsley should not be permitted to become peers. Whilst Blair was ready to drop Patel and Townsley from the list, he was keen for Garrard to get his title.
The Cash Hits the Fan
By February both Townsley and Garrard had decided to withdraw their names from consideration but Patel appeared to be simply annoyed that anyone could conceivably consider denying him his peerage title and approached The Sunday Times to air his grievances. On the 12th March 2006 The Sunday Times published an interview with Mr Patel during which he confirmed that he had lent the party £1.5m, that this loan had not been disclosed to the Commission. Although he had earlier claimed that personally speaking "I have never asked for any favour for the money that I have donated", he now stated that there was a "history here and a reality of peerages for fundraising". Patel also made it clear that he had been prepared to give the money, but that Labour Party that had requested that his contribution be made in the form of a loan in order so that they could avoid the disclosure requirements.
The Sunday Times
soon established that this was not an isolated case and identified that both David Garrard
(£2.3m) and Barry Townsley
(£1m) had also made substantial loans to the party. Hence a number of early reports quoted a figure of £4.8m, which was soon revised upwards as it became clear that this was just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Other significant lenders identified included Gulman Noon
, the ready-meal curry millionaire whose name had also been put forward for a peerage, and David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville who had leant the party the mighty sum of £2m. The appearance of Sainsbury's name on the list was particularly noteworthy since he was a government minister and should therefore have disclosed it under the entirely separate rules which apply to members of the government.
The New Labour Civil War
Tony Blair admitted that he knew that all these people had loaned the party money but denied that there was any connection with their subsequent ennoblement. As he explained "I knew about the fact they had made loans to the Labour party. I believe all these individuals who have been dragged through are people who would make a good contribution to the debates on behalf of the Labour party in the House of Lords." As always, the Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott could be relied to put his foot in it. Asked to give "a categorical assurance" that honours were not for sale, he replied by saying "We have to look a lot more at this before you come to those conclusions you have come to." (He had to come back the next day to explain that of course there was not the slightest possibility of anyone coming to that conclusion no matter how hard they looked at the matter.)
The whole affair caused an argument within the Labour Party, triggered by the admission of the Labour party Treasurer Jack Dromey 6 that he "knew nothing about it" and neither it seems did anyone else in the party. Charles Clarke (who was the Home Secretary at the time and) declared that Dromey's ignorance over the source of the millions raised "serious questions about Jack Dromey's capacity". Some were more direct in their criticism. One source described as 'close ally of the Prime Minister' said that "This was a dagger aimed at the heart of Tony Blair" and that it was "about the politics between Blair and Brown." Another source described as a 'loyal Blairite' was more blunt, calling Dromey "a fucking prick"7 and asserting that "Someone’s set him up to it, I think it’s Brown".
Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the National Executive Committee rushed to defend Downey, claiming that hehad "acted perfectly properly" and that "the elected party treasurer, did not know about the loans had nothing to do with any failings on their part". Of course this still begs the question on how the Labour Party runs its finances when £15m can suddenly appear in its bank accounts without the Treasurer wondering where the money came from.
It also transpired that Ian McCartney, the Labour Party chairman, had been lying in hospital recovering from a heart bypass operation when Ruth Turner, the Prime Minister's head of government relations, had appeared at his bedside waving the nomination certificates for his signature. He was most indignant about the whole affair, claiming that "Had I known that any of these nominees had lent the Labour party money, even though this information was not requested by the commission, I would have insisted that details be included and would not have signed the papers without including them".
What might be described as the usual suspects were interviewed by the media to provide suitable soundbites that were critical of Blair's adminsitration. Clare Short comdemned what she termed "adventures in influence-peddling" whilst Diane Abbott sarcastically referred to "these clever people" who "get money from rich people and run our state without consulting anyone else" whilst Paul Flynn called it "a stain on our parliament".
The Conservatives come clean (eventually)
Whilst the rival Blair and Brown factions within the Labour Party used the row to continue their ongoing feud, the Conservative Party looked on with amused detachment. Of course it was the Conservatives who had first seen the possibilites of loans as a means of sidestepping the disclosure requirements, a practice that was simply copied by Labour. (At this point some cynics would note that this has simply been standard practice for New Labour to date.) It wasn't long therefore before they too were caught up in the story once people remembered that they had secret loans as well. The Conservatives defended the practice by claiming that many businessmen feared that being identified as Conservative supporters would prejudice the award of any government contracts to their businesses. At least this line of defence was of some merit, however negligible, and so the Conservatives could argue that they had simply been responding to their donors wishes to remain anonymous, whereas the Labour Party appears to have been actively encouraging secrecy for its own purposes.
Naturally once it became public knowledge that the Labour Party had raised money via 'secret loans' it sought to deflect some of the criticism coming its way by pointing a finger at the Conservatives and arguing that they were at least as bad. Thus the Conservatives came under pressure to disclose the names of their lenders. The Conservative Party Chairman Francis Maude insisted that it could not do so without the authority of the lender, and in the end paid back £5m to those lenders who wanted to remain anonymous before finally releasing the names of their lenders on the 31st March.
As to the Liberal Democrats, they claimed that they were already disclosing the names of any significant lenders in their annual accounts and so the row had nothing to do with them. But lest any LD sympathiser get too excited, the Liberal Democrats have their own little funding scandal as their leading donor of recent years has been one Michael Brown who is now facing fifty-three criminal charges variously involving forgery, perjury, dishonesty, perverting the course of justice and obtaining a passport by deception.8
The Appointments Commission gets its way
It wasn't until the 10th April 2006 that the list of peerage nominations was finally published and contained only twenty-three names. Missing from the list were the names of David Garrard, Barry Townsley, Chai Patel, together with that of Gulnam Noon all of whom had been significant donors and lenders to the Labour Party. (now known collectively as the 'peerless four'.) Also missing was the name of one Conservative nominee Robert Edmiston, although it wasn't clear whether the objection in his case was based on the fact that he had donated money to the Conservative Party or that he had funded of one of Blair's favoured City Academies.
The future of Party Funding
It is an unfortunate fact of life that political parties need money.
In particular they need large amounts of money in order to put up any kind of fight in a general election. There was a time when both of Britain's major parties could rely on their membership subscriptions to at least pay for the day-to-day expenses. Sadly these days are long gone; membership numbers have declined sharply and in the Labour Party has now fallen below 200,000. It has thus becaome something of a challenge to raise the tens of millions of pounds required to fund a General Election campaign and sadly so long as political parties are in the position of having to fund themselves through voluntary donations raised from a few wealthy individuals there will always be allegations of influence peddling.
The scandal has therefore re-opened the question of how political parties in Britain should be funded, specifically whether there should be any kind of state funding. The leader of the Conservative Party, David Cameron, has come forward to suggest reducing the current limit on election spending from £20m to £15m, an outright ban on all loans other than from financial institutions, a £50,000 limit on donations (albeit with the availability of tax relief on donations below £3,000). He also advocated the state funding of political parties and proposed a formula by which any party who succceeded in winning a seat at a General Election should receive £1.20 for each vote cast in its favour, with a further annual payment of 60p per vote.
On the 4th April 2006 Tony Blair and Tory leader David Cameron met for talks. Afterwards it was reported that they had agreed the need to change the rules for party funding before the next election, but what those changes might be was not revealed. Jack Straw, appointed Leader of the House of Commons in the cabinet reshuffle of May 2006, has been given the task of sorting the problem out, but he appears to be awaiting the result of the Review of the Funding of Political Parties announced by Tony Blair on the 20th March and being conducted by Hayden Phillips.
There are a number of parties interested in conducting an investigation into the allegation of Cash for Peerages. There is the Electoral Commission which has the job of ensuring that the parties abide by the funding rules laid down in the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, and also the Public Administration Select Committee of the House of Commons who feel that the issue also falls within its terms of reference.
As noted above the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 was passed in an attempt to prevent trafficking in honours. On the 6th April the Metropolitan Police issued a statement that it had "received three complaints about the Labour party under section 1 of the Honours Act 1925" and added that "these allegations are being investigated by the Specialist Crime Directorate". The source of two of these complaints have been identified as coming from Angus MacNeil of the Scottish National Party, and Elfyn Llwyd, parliamentary leader of Plaid Cymru, the Welsh Nationalist Party.
Since no charges have yet been bought the matter is not yet sub judice. However the Metropolitan Police have requested that the other interested parties defer their investigations for the time being so as not to prejudice any possible criminal charges. The scope of the criminal investigation being conducted by the Met extends beyond the issue of party funding and they began their inquires by arresting a certain Desmond Smith. Smith had nothing to do with the Cash for Peerages allegations as such, but his name had featured in a story in The Sunday Times that alleged that honours were being dispensed in return for donations to City Academies. It is not clear whether they also investigating the allegation that the Labour Party sought to induce Peter Law to give his challenge to the party in Blaenau Gwent by offering him a peerage title.
On the 15th May Scotland Yard's Deputy Assistant Commissioner John Yates met with the Public Administration Select Committee at the House of Commons where he reported that his inquiry had made "significant progress" but that he anticipated that it would the autumn before he reached any conclusions. One suspects that the words 'insufficient evidence' will crop up at least once in the final report.
The Labour Party has been conducting its own investigation as it has its very own party committee set up to vet potential donors (established in 1992 after it became known that Richard Desmond, had been a signicant donor9). It has been busy interogating the Lord Levy leading him to complain that "I don’t know why I bother raising millions for this party, no one here appreciates what I’m doing."
He may have a point as five of the big Labour donors including Chai Patel, Rod Aldridge, Christopher Evans and Barry Townsley, who have collectively advanced a total of £6.5 million to the party have now said that they want their money back. The Labour Party, already around £23 million in debt, has announced the sale of its party headquarters in Westminster for around £6 million in what has been called "a desperate scramble to avoid bankruptcy
An ICM opinion poll for the Sunday Telegraph showed that 70 per cent of voters now thought Tony Blair's Government was at least as "sleazy" as John Major's previous administration.
1. Desmond Smith
Desmond Smith is the headmaster of the All Saints Catholic School and Technology College, Barking and Dagenham. He was also a member of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust. The SSAT, which is part funded by the Department of Education, is responsible for "delivering the government's Specialist Schools and Academies programme", which is to say that it is the body which is trying to establish City Academies across the length and breadth of the land and which are, of course
New Labour's weapon of choice in the battle to raise standards in the education system, and whose president is the aforementioned Lord Levy.
It was widely believed that one of the ways in which a wealthy individual might attract the favourable attention of the Prime Minister was to agree to sponsor one or more of these City Academies. The Sunday Times decided to put this to the test and sent one of their reporters undercover posing as the personal assistant to a potential donor
In converstation with Des Smith the 'journalist' wanted to know what were the chances of his boss securing an honour. Smith indicated that the Prime Minister's office would most likely recommend an "OBE, a CBE or a knighthood." Smith was then recorded as offering the opinion that in return for investing in in five city academies over, say, a 10-year period, it would be "a certainty" that such a generous benefactor would receive a peerage.
As a result of the accussation that Labour was trading honours for donations, Des Smith resigned from his post on the SSAT whilst the government wheeled out their primary weapon of choice John Reid
who claimed that he didn't even know who Des Smith and that he didn't "speak with any authority for the government at all
". Smith was subsequently arrested and interviewed by the Metropolitan Police. Smith was later released on police bail and has "categorically denied the allegations and says he will be contesting them vigorously
2. Peter Law
Peter Law was a Labour Party member of the Welsh Assembly who objected to the imposition of an all-women shortlist on his local constituency of Blaenau Gwent, and so decided to stand as an Independent candidate against the official Labour candidate one Margaret Jones. At the general election held in May 2005, he duly succeeded in overturning a 19,000 Labour majority. He later died in April 2006 from a brain tumour, at which point his widow claimed that a senior Labour politician had offered her husband a peerage in order to dissuade him from standing. On the 4th May the Plaid Cymru MP Elfyn Llwyd accused the Welsh Secretary Peter Hain of being the senior Labour politician who had made the offer, although Mr Hain has very naturally denied the allegation.
Somewhat ironically Margaret Jones was herself awarded a peerage after her defeat, and indeed was one of the names on the 2005 Nomination list that caused all the problems referred to above.
3. Those Lenders Names In Full
The devil's dozen of lenders as released by the Labour Party on the 20th March 2006 who were collectively responsible for £13,950,000 worth of loans were; Rod Aldridge - £1m; Richard Caring - £2m; Gordon Crawford - £500,000; Christopher Evans - £1m; David Garrard - £2.3m; Nigel Morris - £1m; Gulnam Noon - £250,000; Chai Patel - £1.5m; Andrew Rosenfeld - £1m; David Sainsbury, Baron Sainsbury of Turville - £2m; Barry Townsley - £1m; and Derek Tullett - £400,000.
On the 31st March 2006 the Conservative Party published its list of thirteen lenders to whom it owed a total of £15,950,000, thus revealing the names of; Henry Angest] - £550,000; Michael Ashcroft, Baron Ashcroft - £3.6m; Cringle Corporation - £450,000; Vivien Duffield - £250,000; Johan Eliasch - £2.6m; Graham Facks-Martin - £50,000; Michael Hintze - £2.5m; Irvine Laidlaw, Baron Laidlaw - £3.5m; Alan Lewis - £100,000; Raymond Richards - £1m; Victoria de Rothschild - £1m; Leonard Steinberg, Baron Steinberg - £250,000; Charles Wigoder - £100,000. This does not include the names of those lenders whose loans had been repaid by the party, although those names were provided to the Electoral Commission.
4. The Ones That Got Away
The twenty-three life peers who made it through the selection process were; Colin Boyd, lord advocate, Scottish Executive; Keith Bradley, former Labour minister and MP; Wallace Browne, lord mayor of Belfast; Sandy Bruce-Lockhart, chairman, Local Government Association; John Burnett, former Liberal Democrat MP; Brian Cotter, former Liberal Democrat MP; Margaret Ford, chairman, English Partnerships; David James, chairman, Litigation Control Group; Margaret Jones, director of policy and public affairs, Unison; Denise Kingsmill, deputy chairman, Design Museum; Charles Leach, director, Jardine Matheson Holdings; John Lee, non-executive director, Emerson Developments (Holding) Ltd; Jonathan Marland, ex-director, Jardine Lloyd Thompson plc; Bill Morris, former general secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union; Maurice Morrow, chairman, Democratic Unionist Party; Eileen Paisley, vice-president, Democratic Unionist Party; Joyce Quin, former Labour minister and MP; Mohamed Sheikh, chairman, Conservative Muslim Forum; John Taylor, director, Taylors Bulbs, Spalding; Robin Teverson, director of finance, South West; Celia Thomas from the Liberal Democrat whips office in the Lords; David Trimble, ex-leader Ulster Unionist Party; Sandip Verma, founder of Domiciliary Care Services UK.
1 As well as being a journalist John Grigg was also the Baron Altringham until he disclaimed his title in 1963.
2 The Appointments Commission is a six-person committee headed by Lord Stevenson of Coddenham (David Stevenson), a cross-bench peer, and includes Lord Hurd (Douglas Hurd), the former Conservative foreign secretary, Baronness Dean of Thornton-le-Fylde (Brenda Dean) for the Labour Party, a former union leader, and the Liberal Democrat Lord Dholakia (Navnit Dholakia).
3 The Green Party formally withdrew the nomination and suspended Hugo Charlton as chairman.
4 Paul Drayson now holds a government post in the Ministry of Defence. Cash for jobs anyone?
5 It also alleged that Minerva benefited from its connections to Labour as a result of planning decisions made by John Prescott's Office of the Deputy Prime Minister which allowed the compnay to proceed with the development of a shopping centre in Croydon and the construction of the Minerva Tower, which will be the tallest building in the City of London, despite some opposition.
6 Dromey happens to be married to Harriet Harman, a minister at the Department for Constitutional Affairs who promptly announced that she could no longer be responsible for electoral law since there was a potential conflict with her husband’s work. She also failed to turn up for her a scheduled appearance on the BBC's Question Time programme, whose presenter David Dimbleby was most annoyed that her name was "mysteriously withdrawn at the last minute".
7 In the true tradition of the British press this originally appeared as "f****** p****".
8 It was Michael Brown's money that basically bankrolled the Liberal Democrats' election campaign in 2005. Unfortunately Michael Brown is no longer resident in the United Kingdom, he is not registered to vote in the UK and the money came from his Swiss-based company, 5th Avenue. There is supposed to an absolute bar on British political parties receiving 'foreign' donations and the Electoral Commission has yet to rule on whether Mr Brown should be regarded as a foreign donor. This is of course entirely separate from the allegation that the Liberal Democrats were in receipt of 'dirty money' that was the proceeds of fraud.
9 Richard Desmond is the owner of Express Newspapers, although he initally made his fortune publishing a range of 'educational' magazines with such titles Asian Babes, 60 Plus, and Big Ones International. Thus certain sections of the Labour Party regarded Desmond's money as tainted.
- John Lidstone, The Reform of the Honours System, The 1998 Churchill Society Christmas Lecture
- Focus: what price power? The Sunday Times March 19, 2006 www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-2092688,00.html
- Philip Johnston, Age of dirty politics destroys Labour's vow to be cleaner than clean 03/11/2005
- Toby Helm Labour MPs' fury over 'loans for peerages' 13/03/2006
- Andrew Roberts, Who wants to be a billionaire baron?, 16/03/2006
- Blair takes 'cash for ermine' to new depths, 17/03/2006
- Patrick Hennessy, Melissa Kite and Chris Hastings, Revealed: Blair's secret role in loans scandal, 19/03/2006
- Christopher Hope, Jeff Randall and George Jones, We want our money back, 22/03/2006
- Marie Woolf, Green leader ousted in honours list fiasco
06 November 2005
Patrick Wintour, Labour seeks to damp down scandal by naming sources of £13.9m loans, March 21, 2006
- Rebecca Smithers and David Pallister, City academies adviser resigns after cash-for-honours accusation, January 16, 2006
- Robert Winnett, Claire Newell and Jonathan Calvert, Loose talk from Dagenham Des that could wreck Blair's legacy, April 16, 2006
- Plaid leader in MP peerage claim 4 May 2006
- For the Review of the Funding of Political Parties see
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