Thursday, 10 July 2008

For Brutus is an honourable man ...

Plenty people have heard the protestations of Wendy Alexander and her team (including the fragrant Margaret Curran) that all the advice she got was that she didn't have to register her leadership donations and that she is as honest as the day is long.

The Standards Commissioner's report has been published now, and it's interesting reading. Remember that Wendibles had the opportunity to object to observations made in the report. Parts of it were even changed to accommodate her opinions. She didn't object to these bits:

Let me point you to the Clerk's note at Appendix 6:

Chat with Wendy Alexander re Party Leadership election

8 November 2007

Wendy explained that she was about to release a press release regarding donations made towards her party leadership campaign. After reading out the text of the press release, she stated that this was for our information. The press release was more focussed on the requirements of the Electoral Commissioner rather than the Register of Interests. I explained that the Election Expenses category required registration of donations which exceed 25% of the expenses for the members’ election as a member and therefore would not apply to the Party leadership campaign.

I did however also explain that any donation could be considered as a gift and therefore it would be required to be registered if it exceeded £520 and met the prejudice test. Wendy explained that the money have been donated to a separate account set up for the purpose and therefore was not made to her personally.

That would be advice from the Clerks that she was obliged to register the gifts then.

Here's something else from the interview at appendix 14:

16. Paul Green does not appear on the list. His donation is recorded against the name “Combined Property Services”. I believed that the donation had been made on behalf of Combined Property Services. That matter was investigated and considered in detail by the Electoral Commission. In a few cases, there was ambiguity as to whether donations were given personally by an individual with a controlling interest in a company or from a corporate account. Donations from the Phoenix Car Company and Strathvale Holdings were erroneously listed as arising from individuals and Paul Green’s donation was erroneously listed as a corporate donation. Again, the Electoral Commission has been provided with full and complete information in the context of its investigation. The Commission’s judgement later was that there was a breach of the 30 day reporting requirement in relation to Paul Green’s cheque – there is a £200 reporting threshold for impermissible donations. I did inadvertently break the law on the 30 days on Paul Green. I was totally unaware of the date on which it had been received or that it was the first one banked; in that sense it was a technical breach.

[I pointed out to Ms Alexander that the dates given for receipt or banking of the donations on the voluntary return [all between 19 and 25 October 2007] differed markedly from the dates supplied to me in December 2007 by her solicitor along with copies of the cheques and some pages of the campaign bank accounts. For example Paul Green’s cheque was banked on 31 August 2007 but it is recorded on the voluntary return as being received/banked on 23 October 2007. By the time of the first receipt recorded on the voluntary return, over £7000 had in fact been withdrawn from the account. From the later information, six donations had been received prior to 9 October 2007 and four had certainly been banked by then. The significance of 9 October is that it is 30 days before 8 November, when Ms Alexander sought advice from the Clerks. I asked her how it came about that such inaccurate date information was provided to the Electoral Commission, and if she accepted that her seeking of advice from the Clerks had occurred after the 30 day limit for registering interests in relation to around half of the relevant donations?]

So misleading information provided to the Electoral Commission as well then.

Let me introduce Labour's new spin-doctor, Milo Minderbinder ...

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