In a surprise last night on Newsnight, Abrahams spoke by phone to Paxman and read out on air a letter of thanks from Jon Mendelsohn, Brown’s personal fundraiser, thanking him for his financial support and inviting him to a meeting in London. The letter was according to Abrahams received only yesterday, implying it was mailed just before the Mail story ran. Further proof that he was not a distant outsider as is now claimed, but someone who was considered by Brown intimates to be a known big backer of the Labour party.
Paxman: How recently have you been in contact with Gordon Brown’s fundraiser, Jonathan Mendelson?
Abrahams: Well, I’ve just got a letter today through my door in Newcastle, it came at 1.30pm today and it’s a personal message from John Mendelson and I’ll just read you extracts of the letter, it’s in his own hand.
“Dear David thank you for your message which Oliver passed onto me, the party is of course very appreciative of all the support you have given over many years at some point I would like to have the opportunity to talk with you personally about what we are doing and our plans for the time between now and the next general election. I know your diary is very busy but as one of the party’s strongest supporters it is only right that you are kept informed of what we are doing and the priorities that we are assigning to our resources. Any time that your diary allows, when you are next in London, I would very much like to meet to discuss this with you. Warmest regards. John. The Director of General Election Resources.
Paxman: And that letter arrived today
Abrahams: And that is contrary to what Geoff Hoon just stated on the program
Paxman: Can you tell us on the question of the support for Harriet Harman’s campaign for the deputy leadership? Do you know whether she approached Janet Kidd or did Janet Kidd approach her camp?
Abrahams: I genuinely don’t know, I can’t recall. I’ve been trying to think of this all evening. Umm. I can remember Hilary Benn because I gave him a cheque personally. Umm I can’t precisely recall what happened in the case of Harriet Harman. I’d totally forgotten about my donation to Hilary Benn when all this erupted at the weekend. It was just when it came out today, it jogged my memory
Paxman: Just as a matter of curiosity why did you back two candidates in the deputy leadership?
Abrahams: I backed Hilary Benn
Paxman: Oh, you didn’t put up the money for Mrs Kidd to give to Harriet Harman?
Abrahams: I backed Hilary Benn
Paxman: Did you give Mrs Kidd money to give to anybody?
Abrahams: I’ve just answered that question Jeremy and I umm and I think you should be satisfied with the explanation I have just given you.
Paxman: I just want to be absolutely clear about this if Harriet Harman received any money from Mrs Kidd…
Abrahams: I don’t want you to give any inaccurate statements on this particular issue. I gave Hilary Benn a cheque direct, to his, in his hand for which he thanked me and that’s, as I say uh was umm my preferred candidate.
Paxman: What’s this whole experience done to your future plans to support the labour party?
Abrahams: I’ll have to review them in the light of new legislation which I hope is brought onto the statute book as early as possible because this is just a total fiasco and when the act, and I was at a seminar in 2000, and when the act was explained to me at Durham County Hall, and being on the northern regional executive at the time, we had a day seminar on it and at the time I said that I didn’t like it, it seemed very clumsy there was a lot of loop holes in it and I stood up for party uhh government funding for political parties.
Paxman: One further
Abrahams: That was the only way I saw the future
Paxman: One further point Mr Abrahams. How many people at a senior level perhaps Mr Mendelson, perhaps others have known that you have been supporting the party in the way that you have been?
Abrahams: I can’t tell you for sure, because as far as I was concerned, I suggested to my associates that they made donations to the labour party and umm I did mention to the general secretary that I knew people who would support the labour party and I would be instrumental in insuring that donations were forthcoming and that was my role in that specific, for that specific purpose without wanting to get directly involved myself and at the same time until the weekend I didn’t know it was illegal for a person to hasn’t personally donated to declare his hand to the electoral commission otherwise I most certainly wouldn’t have contributed in this way
Paxman: Mr Abrahams, thank you for taking the time to join us, thank you.
The police will have a lot of questions to ask…