Ten days ago the Telegraph ran an intriguing story about Ealing MP Virendra Sharma and a mysterious party he held to celebrate his election victory in May 2010. A host of big names, including David Miliband and Lord Paul, came along to the event that was hosted at the Monsoon Banqueting Suites in Southall. Nothing really out of the usual so far. Except for an allegation in the Indian Express that the party was paid for by the Indian government through its tourist board in London “Incredible India”:
“An invoice of £5,000 was made out to the Incredible India Office. Jagdish Chander, director of the office, received a letter dated May 31, 2010 from “Dr C Marliapart,” “chief executive” of the “Krishna Menon Institute”, thanking him for funding the event. “Thank you for participating and supporting our event on 23rd of May 2010. On behalf of Krishna Menon Institute I would like to thank you for contribution of £5,000 towards to costs of the hall hire and the entertainement. Could you please make the cheque payable to Monsoon.” India Tourism obliged with a State Bank of India cheque to Monsoon on July 14, 2010.”
When Sharma’s attention was drawn to the matter by Ealing councillor Phil Taylor he said:
“I vehemently deny the false allegations that you refer to in your email and that have appeared in various media. I have never received a donation from Indiatourism and have therefore never been liable to make a declaration in the Parliamentary register of members’ interests.”
But Guido has some bad news for Sharma, via his Indian sources, he’s managed to get hold of a copy of the cheque:
Even if the event was private it would be dodgy enough to have what is effectively an arm of a foreign government pay for it, but Sharma clearly said on the night:
“On behalf of our chair Gurdip Sahota I welcome you to the Ealing Southall Labour Party thank you celebration.”
In other words it’s an official event. There is no declaration to Parliament or the Electoral Commission for it, and besides foreign donations are illegal. What’s going on Mr Sharma?