Do Emails Get Osborne Off the Hook?

Guido has been slow to comment because despite having asked Osborne’s office for copies of the emails which Osborne claims get him off the hook on the non-declaration of third-party financial support for his staff, he hadn’t seen them. Sam Coates’ Red Box got them first.

From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 06 December 2007 14:44
To: Da Costa, Nikki

Subject: Overlap

Good morning Nikki

I promised Mr McLoughlin written confirmation of the areas of interest where Members must register both with me and also, under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), with the Electoral Commission.

I hope the following brief summary is helpful, but Mr McLoughlin might also like to consult the Electoral Commission for more detail. I usually speak to Rachel Savage on 020 7271 xxxx

The Electoral Commission is

interested in ‘political donations’. Benefits personal to the Member (eg tickets to sporting events) are not of interest to them.

The areas of overlap are concentrated in Categories 4 (Sponsorship) and 6 (Overseas visits). In the case of the latter, their threshold is higher than ours – they do not require the registration of visits worth £1,000 or less.

There are also a few interests which we register under Category 5 (Gifts, benefits and hospitality (UK)) which are regarded by the Commission as political donations which need to be registered with them if they are worth more than £1,000 – car parking passes or web-site design (if worth more than £1,000) are examples of these.

Under PPERA, it is the responsibility of the Member to report appropriately to the Electoral Commission. It has recently become the practice of this office to advise Members to consult the Commission if it appears to us that an interest should be registered with them, but I must emphasise that this is purely informal arrangement and does not absolve Members from the responsibility for being aware of, and complying with, their obligations under the Act. Nor can this office advise, expect ingeneral terms, about the requirements of the Act.

This office and the Committee on Standards and Privileges are aware of some dissatisfaction among Members that they have to register the same interest twice. The Electoral Administration Act 2006 opens up the possibility of a ‘one-stop shop’ for reporting where the requirements overlap, and it is hoped that the House will, before too long, be given the opportunity to consider the implications of such a system and decide whether it wishes to implement it.

I hope this helps

Alda Barry

So nothing about third party funding of staff via CCHQ in the main email.

From: Da Costa, Nikki
Sent: 07 December 2007 11:03
Subject: RE: Overlap

Thanks Alda.

This is very useful

Kind regards


Nikki da Costa
Special Adviser to the Opposition Chief Whip

A simple acknowledgement.

From : BARRY, Alda
Sent: 07 December 2007 13:53
To: Da Costa, Nikki
Subject: RE: Overlap


I think I misled you just now. The register deals with donations to a member’s constituency association and not to central offices. Sorry.


The highlighted text appears to get Osborne off the hook. What do you think?

+++ Hain’s CLP Emergency Meeting +++

Hain’s own constituency Neath Labour Party is holding an emergency executive meeting on Wednesday to discuss the affair. Hain has a lot of questions to answer…

Disorganised or Destabilised?

Emily Thornberry, the former Trotskyite turned property developing MP, was on Radio 4. She defended Hain on the grounds that he was obviously disorganised and the proof of that was that his campaign strategy and budget details were revealed last year on this blog. Guido would contend that it was good investigative journalism that got the stories on here that so destabilised his campaign. What does it say about him as a Minister when the best defence his colleagues can proffer is that he is disorganised and chaotic?

Home v House

ConservativeHome is not taking the Speccie’s critically successful entry into online discussion (with CoffeeHouse) lying down. It too has now launched a multi-authored comment site. CentreRight.Com’s groundbreaking advance is to not have reader comments. Now the Dead-Tree-Press is all full of unpaid commentators maybe the truly avant garde Web 3.0 thing to do is to remove the interactivity…

Guido is sceptical about multi-authored blogs. They have to have a tight-focus to be successful. Waffling about anything and everything doesn’t work. Good luck, but Guido is reaching info overload…

Rich & Mark’s Monday Morning View

Labour Rank and File Disown Hain

The Sunday Times reports members of Hain’s campaign urging him to quit. The rumblings in the rank and file don’t sound any better. Looking around the Labour blogosphere there is no comfort for the embattled Hain:-

Paul Burgin, a party press officer for the N. E. Herts CLP writes “Hain Must Go…he should hand in his resignation first thing on Monday”. Highbury CLP’s Tim McLoughlin has questions, “If he is unable to run his own small office effectively, how can one expect him to properly manage the Department for Work and Pensions?”

Susan Press, a Labour Deputy Mayor, writes “In life we all make mistakes. So I admit to serious misjudgment in voting for Peter Hain as Deputy Leader.” The “bogus think-tank” is the last straw, she doesn’t believe a word he says.

Even LabourHome’s usually on-message Alex Hilton reckons it “untenable that he will remain in his position for another week and the end of his ministerial career is probably only awaiting the Prime Minister’s deliberations on the implications for a full-scale reshuffle.” On the left Andrew Coates complains “that he has the gall to explain away his gaff of trousering a mere £100,000 by means which would get him imprisoned were he to do the same as a Claimant under the system of his own Department of Work and Pensions… Meanwhile Hain is found out as Mister Well-lined Pockets himself.” David Osler, a left-wing friend of old, regrets that once “I did at least accord you a certain degree of genuine respect as a radical reforming politician. I don’t think I like what time and high office has done to you.”

It is also noticeable that not a single Cabinet Minister has defended Hain…

Every Little Endorsement Helps :Another Company Endorsed for Hain’s Fundraiser

Hain’s chief fundraiser is the sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan. His biggest client is Tesco, so is it any surprise that Hain was pictured promoting Tesco? No.

This is the third identified corporate endorsement with cash links to Hain. (Picture Financial Services and Cuddy both got Hain’s endorsements, he got their cash). Morgan gave £5,000 of his in part Tesco derived earnings to Hain’s campaign. Which Morgan then forgot to declare…

The press release sent out by the DWP was headlined “Every Little Helps”. The somewhat thin justification for his civil service department doing corporate PR slogans for Tesco was that they had employed previously unemployed workers. The evidence is that Peter is always willing to help out with PR for donors…

Hain Cover-Up Not An “Absurd” Idea

Hain is attempting to shamelessly tough it out, despite even members of his own campaign team telling him to resign. He says the idea that he had attempted “to hide anything is absurd”. Is it really?

Why did his campaign wash cash through the Progressive Policies Forum (PPF) shell company in that case?

  • The BBC is reporting that one of the donations was transferred immediately it was received in the PPF account to his campaign account. Why not donate it directly to the Hain campaign if you have nothing to hide?

  • Willie Nagel, a diamond dealer, used PPF to keep his donation private. Indeed that was the condition upon which the donation was made. That is not in the spirit of the law. It is a deliberate attempt to hide the source of funds. Not so absurd now is it?
  • Is it absurd to wonder if his campaign team thought it might be better for the campaign’s left-wing credentials if it was not known to be the recipient of funds from a foreign multi-millionaire diamond dealer?

  • Perhaps the great anti-Apartheid veteran did not want the embarrassment of it being known that he was funded by Isaac Kaye, a former supporter of South Africa’s Afrikaner-led National Party. Kaye has previously been involved in “gifts for influence” and NHS price fixing scandals. Being known to be funded by an under investigation NHS profiteer would not appeal to Labour Party activist voters.
Routing the funds through a faux think-tank would disguise their source. Did somebody decide that not declaring them to the Electoral commission would avoid the risk of awkward questions altogether? It was absurdly bad luck that the unrelated Jon Mendelsohn / Abrahams proxy donor scandal resulted in Mendelsohn’s undeclared donation eventually being exposed. Mendelsohn’s admission meant that the other undeclared donations would inevitably come out during the police investigation – if it was not for the Abrahams scandal blowing up, Hain would have probably got away with it. It is the cover-up that always gets them in the end…

The whole Labour Party leadership campaign funding saga is turning into a farce, with the revelation that even Gordon Brown broke his own party’s donation rules.

Guido has checked the Electoral Commission website, his campaign lists 21 donations amounting to £196,700 and 3 non-cash donations totaling £19,005, giving a total of £215,705 altogether.

Under the Labour Party’s own rules he must pay 15% of the campaign funds raised into central party funds. Gordon, unlike all the other candidates, has not paid any funds over to the party according to the Electoral Commission. He should have paid £32,355. All the other candidates, including even Peter Hain, made their payments months ago. We know Gordon says he isn’t an accountant, but does he have the minimal competence required of a party leader, to ensure his campaign follows the party’s own rules? No wonder why he allows Wendy Alexander, Harriet Harman and Peter Hain to cling to office despite their breaking the rules, he is no different…

UPDATE : Dizzy has spotted something interesting. Remember Silverfish buying up websites like “speculatively”? Of course they all ended up, despite earlier denials, being used by Brown’s campaign. Did Silverfish get properly paid or did they, as many believe, give it all as a benefit in kind? If the latter, where are the declarations to the Electoral Commission?

Hain’s Story is Unravelling

Let’s tell it like it is, the Progressive Policies Forum is a slush fund. It has done nothing, has undertaken no known political activity, has no employees, no policies and there was no forum or indeed any meeting ever. When it quacks like a slush fund, acts like a slush fund and washes money like a slush fund, it is a slush fund.

The BBC is reporting that funds came into PPF and were transferred out on the same day – suggesting it was a purely a money laundering operation set-up by his own campaign treasurer. Hain has been pushing the “it was my incompetence” line, this makes it look like deliberate obfuscation…

Shaun Woodward Spoke at Fundraiser

The April 23, 2007, £1,300 Hain dinner paid for by Royal Mail director Huw Roberts had, Guido understands from a source at the dinner Shaun Woodward as the keynote speaker. That a supposedly left-wing campaign fundraiser was addressed by a multi-millionaire ex-Tory MP should surprise no-one. Hain’s campaign was always about furthering Hain, not “Progressive Policies”. Hain had no hesitation in accepting money from all sources, businessman and vested interests had no problem supporting his candidacy. His left-wing positioning was merely a transparently tactical necessity, which most Labour Party members fortunately saw through…

Hain Still Has Campaign Debts of £41,200

According to the Electoral Commission, Peter Hain registered a payment to the Labour Party of £11,550 on September 18. Under party rules he had to pay 15% of the funds raised to the party’s central funds.
Since he raised a total of £185,000, he should have actually paid the party £27,750. So he owes the Labour Party £16,200. He also owes Willie Nagel, a diamond broker and former Tory supporter repayment on an interest-free loan of £25,000.

Which means by Guido’s calculations he has unpaid campaign debts to the tune of £41,200.

Another £10,000 Hain Donor Got Endorsement

In February last year Peter Hain decided it was of great importance to be photographed presenting Mike Cuddy, Managing Director of Cuddy Group, with the NQA 18001 Award Occupational Health & Safety. As good a thing as it is, does it really merit the presentation by the Welsh Minister, glowing endorsement and photo-op? He was too busy to pay attention to his campaign finances because of his work in Northern Ireland he spins. Yet he had plenty of time for Cuddy Group. NQA 18001 is “awarded” for documenting your company’s approach to occupational health and safety. It is essentially for an office manual written by a junior in human resources.

Presenting the certificate Peter Hain said “With their accolade of awards continuing to grow I’m sure the Cuddy Group can look forward to a successful future.”

He also said thanks to Mike Cuddy for the £10,000 donation to his campaign… which he then forgot to declare.

Hat-tip : Joey Jones

As Guido suspected they would, Steve Morgan and Phil Taylor are blaming each other for the non-reporting of donations to Hain’s campaign. Guido has had run-ins with Hain’s ex-SpAd Phil Taylor before. The betting is that Phil is the one telling the truth, Morgan has a history with funding irregularities. Sleazy lobbyist Steve Morgan claims that when he took over in the middle of Hain’s campaign it was “complete chaos”. Phil Taylor denies this emphatically, “Not on my watch” he says “by the time I left we’d received legally and had declared £37,000 of donations and we hadn’t received a single penny in donations that was not declared at the time I left, so there was no chaos of any kind.” So that leaves a lot of unaccounted for cash raised by Morgan.

“Morgan the Organ”, as he was know in his days as George Galloway’s membership secretary and henchmen at War on Want in the late 80s, has had brushes with campaign funding irregularities in the past. Gorgeous George’s tenure at the left-wing campaigning charity led to a subsequent investigation by the Charity Commission over funding irregularities that were a foretaste of scandals to come.

His expenses and parking tickets were paid for out of WoW charity fundraising sources rather than his own pocket – and he regularly parked on the double yellow lines outside WoW’s Great Guilldford Street offices. Lefties who gave money to combat poverty in the Third World would not have been pleased to know their donations were going to offset Morgan’s anti-social laziness.

Guido wonders if some of the donors to Hain’s campaign might be just a little bit too embarrassing for a campaign that was positioned on the left. If it turns out to be case that say, a private equity baron or a hedge fund trader were donors, people will wonder if it really was incompetence or political embarrassment that was the reason for non-declaration of donations.

Morgan is currently helping on Hillary’s campaign so Guido feels it to be his duty to warn young impressionable American interns. He was known as “Morgan the Organ” for obvious reasons and to this day has an eye for young ladies…

+++ Rumour of Arrests Over Donorgate +++

The London Evening Standard is reporting “imminent” arrests…

BBC Invade America, Taxpayers Only Casualties

As Speedbird pointed out in the comments earlier, the BBC has Jonathan Beale, Justin Webb, Kevin Connelly, Matt Frei, Jon Sopel and David Grossman covering the primaries.
All reporting on the same thing, all giving the same (incorrect) analysis. Actually to be fair, David Grossman for Newsnight was different, telling us how he’d accidentally put diesel in the car and even filming his own cameraman and producer.[…]


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