Enjoy A Night In

Even in Wexford, courtesy of Sky and the wonders of broadband, it is possible for Guido to watch both Newsnight and Question Time simultaneously. Newsnight is going to have some devestating revelations from David Grossman and Question Time should be a laugh.

Guido is on his second bottle, one of the better Margaux – well it has been a good day. Always liked that Grossman chap…

Police Confirm Investigation

Peter Watt could face up to 12 months for breaching the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 alone. There are various potential offences to consider. More here.

Roy Kennedy was the Director of Finance and Compliance when the illegal funding operation was under way. Labour sources have told Guido that he should have known, it is inconceivable that the third biggest funder of the Labour party could have gone unchecked. He was responsible for compliance with the law. The question is when did he first know about it?

He will be an early target of the police investigation.

Evening Standard : “Source is Excellent”

Jon Mendelsohn is running out of options, as an experienced spin merchant he knows that suing a newspaper is risky and the last option of the desperate. It buys a little time and than you may have to drop it or risk expensively losing in Court. Remember the Beckhams threatening to sue various kiss ‘n tell girls? Remember Aitken and his trusty sword of truth? Doesn’t work does it?

Every indication is that the Standard is sticking by the story. They say the source is excellent. Guido has to laugh whenever Mendelsohn’s “friends” peddle the “man of integrity” line. People who have done business with him say that is not a description they recognised. The last thing Labour needs is to wash their dirty linen in a bitterly fought libel case.

Gordon Brown is Now Official Labour Party Treasurer

Now that Peter Watt has resigned the legal treasurer of the Labour party is one G. Brown:

The law says


(a) the person registered as a party’s treasurer dies, or

(b) his appointment as treasurer terminates for any other reason,

then, until such time as another person is registered as the party’s treasurer in pursuance of an application under section 31(3)(a), the appropriate person shall be treated for all purposes of this Act (except subsection (8)) as if he were registered also as its treasurer.

(7) In subsection (6) “the appropriate person” means—

(a) the person registered as the party’s leader;

That should appeal to his control freakery…

Hat tip : LabourHome

LibDems Ask “Did Abrahams Illegally Finance Sedgefield By-Election?”

Defeated Sedgefield LibDem candidate Greg Stone has written to Phil Wilson MP, the Labour victor in Blair’s old constituency, demanding an explanation for his campaign’s funding.
As you will be aware, there has been considerable recent media coverage of illegitimate donations made to the Labour Party by Mr David Abrahams. Both the local press and the national press are reporting that donations totalling £62,000 were made by Mr Abrahams via his associates Mr Ruddick and Mrs Kidd to the Labour Party on the day the Sedgefield by-election was declared.

The LibDems have also made an official complaint to the Electoral Commission. It is noticeable that Abrahams was given a front-row seat at Sedgefield when Blair retired. Front row seats don’t come cheap…

Mendelsohn “Offered to Launder Moneyfor Deputy Leadership Campaign”

The London Evening Standard is reporting rumours that are flying around that the Benn deputy leadership campaign was offered and turned down illegal funding organised by Jon Mendelsohn. Which would explain why Baroness Jay is being so tight-lipped.

“We were approached by Mendelsohn. He rang up to say he had ways of supporting people. He said he was close to Gordon and was going to help with his leadership campaign. We discussed things but it became clear early on what he was talking about. He said there were people who want to make donations but they can’t be in the public domain. He said he could facilitate moving money around through a network of other people. He said ‘don’t worry, there’s nothing dodgy about it’. I ran a mile and said ‘thanks but no thanks’. A source close to Mr Mendelsohn revealed that he had met Gareth Thomas MP, a member of Hilary Benn’s campaign, for a cup of coffee and had mentioned how difficult it was to get donations because of the cash for honours affair. The source suggested that there were Labour supporters ready to offer funds, but Mr Mendelsohn categorically denies any suggestion he raised the idea of using third parties.”

Looks like the Labour knives are out. If Harman is forced out of course one of the other rivals could take her place – perhaps Hilary Benn…

Property Developer Gets Local Labour MPStephen Ladyman’s Backing After £25,000 Donation

Property company Commercial Group Properties Plc has an interest in Manston Business Park off the A299 near Kent Airport. The 45 acres it owns could be developed if Ken Wills the company’s chief executive gets planning permission.

Dr Stephen Ladyman, Labour MP for South Thanet, told the local rag this week: “I fully support Ken and his team in their efforts which is why I have been working with them for well over a year…” Which is nice, and entirely unrelated to the recent £25,000 donation property developer Ken Wills made to Stephen Ladyman’s local Labour party in this ultra-marginal seat…

Exclusive : Police to Seize Labour Party Software Evidence

A co-conspirator tells Guido that the Labour party’s High Value Donors Unit has a piece of American software that could provide very handy evidence for the police investigating the illegal fund raising scandal. Raiser’s Edge is supposed to record all contacts with donors including what events they have attended and what telephone calls have taken place. It will reveal some of the people who knew about Abrahams besides Peter Watt, Jon Mendelsohn and Baroness Jay.

The police will want to get in before they hit the delete button – if the software records that David Abrahams is in fact the donor for Kidd et al the scandal is institutional and systematic. Guido wonders what the software will record for the proxy donors. If the records go missing in a cover-up attempt it would indicate a conspiracy to pervert the course of justice – again!

Michael Bright has got the Labour party to admit Abrahams attended fund raising galas with ministers and other high-ranking Labour figures. No word as to who was at the table with Abrahams, but as the third highest ranking donor you can bet he wasn’t on a table behind a pillar next to the toilets. Flash, bang wallop what a picture that will be…

UPDATE : Deleting records could be difficult for anyone at Labour HQ contemplating perverting the course of justice according to a co-conspirator “I work for a charity (have done for many years, I am the token right winger in the room, kind of minority tokenism, but anyway…) and have been using Raiser’s Edge™ for many years, and if their system works anything like ours, not only will/should every contact be recorded, but they cannot be deleted, for audit purposes. And should someone be naughty and not record info, it will probably be reconstructable through the context of the other information on the system.”

Mendelsohn Goes Missing

Jon Mendelsohn has gone to ground and is not answering questions from the media.

He released a statement claiming that when he learnt from Peter Watt that Abrahams was behind a string of proxy donations he was “unhappy with the arrangement… very concerned that these arrangements did not meet the strict transparency test that I wished to see in place… I did not discuss this with the officers of the national executive committee or party leadership… I decided to tell Mr Abrahams that his method of contribution was unacceptable.”

He sticks to the party line that Peter Watt the General Secretary thought it was legally correct. So despite his suspicions he still kept schtum, told no one and intended to put a stop to it. Do you believe this highly successful spin doctor is telling the truth?

  • Why didn’t Mendelsohn immediately inform the Electoral Commission?
  • Why given that he told Peter Watt of his concerns, didn’t he also report his concerns immediately to the NEC or his party leader, Gordon Brown?
  • On appointment as Director of General Election Resources, it was stated that he would report to Douglas Alexander, the General Election Co-ordinator. So why did he report this to Peter Watt instead?
  • In the letter to Abrahams he refers to “the priorities that we are assigning to our resources”, isn’t that actually a softening up phrase for a bid for more money?
It all just doesn’t ring true. It smells like he is trying to protect his political superiors. At least in this case we have clear evidence of wrong doing and the police won’t have difficulty proving a crime was committed. Gordon Brown has already told us it was unlawful.

What Laws Have Been Broken?

There seems to be a smorgasbord of potential offences committed in this illegal funding operation for the Labour party. Money laundering, fraudulent misrepresentation, numerous offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the list goes on.

So all you loafing lawyers and amateur barrister wannabees, lets see if we can compile a list of potential charges to be faced in the comments. Should make pleasant reading…

Vince Cable : “From Stalin to Mr Bean”

It has come to something when even the LibDems are taking the piss out of Gordon’s competence at PMQs. Vince has been very impressive on Northern Rock, military funding, the economy and slapping down Gordon. Some may wonder if the the LibDems have the best choice before them…

Mendacious Mendelsohn Must Go

Mortgage subsidy fiddler Geoff Hoon on Newsnight told Paxman “It seems clear that there could be no impropriety attached to Mr Mendelsohn he acted properly.”

Paxman: I wasn’t suggesting impropriety I was merely suggesting he knew who Mr Abrahams was.

Hoon: He has made clear he hasn’t solicited any donations whatsoever from Mr Abrahams and given the facts set out by Paul Mason in his interviews it seems highly unlikely that he would approach him for a donation given the history between the two men.

Hoon was not telling the truth as became clear minutes later when Abrahams contradicted him. Mendelsohn not only knew Abrahams, he knew about his substantial donations and currently wanted to discuss getting more for Gordon. He handwrote his letter addressed to “Dear David”…

In Westminster there is no murkier business than lobbying and of all the sleazy lobbyists there is no sleazier firm than LLM – Lawson, Lucas, Mendelsohn. Famous for cash-for-access scandals, representing opposing sides on legislation and generally being the scummiest lobbying firm in the Westminster village with coincidentally the closest links to New Labour.

So when Gordon Brown told us he wanted to clean up politics after the sleaze of the Blair era, he clearly wanted to put all that dodgy fundraising behind him. So why did he appoint lobbyist Jon Mendelsohn as the Labour party’s Director of General Election Resources, reporting directly to wee Douglas Alexander?

Mendelsohn is a friend and protege of Sleazy Lord Levy. After he cashed in his LLM stock his days at the office were spent on the phone on behalf of Labour Friends of Israel, plotting with Levy, using all the same hustling tricks as Levy. It would be very interesting to see how many Mendelsohn clients got honours…

Jon’s firm pioneered cash-for-access in the early days of New Labour for LLM clients, he is at the centre of a web of financial links to Labour; Treasurer of Policy Network, Treasurer of Progress, deeply involved in Labour Friends of Israel. His firm is infamous for lobbying on behalf of two opposing cities to get a super-casino. This is not the first or the last time that his mendaciousness has been exposed…

It is clear that Mendelsohn knew that Abrahams was the real donor of substantial sums, in which case he was in the know about an illegal funding operation, he can’t remain the head of Labour’s fundraising efforts in those circumstances.

Two of Brown’s Fundraisers Linked to Abrahams

Sir Sigmund Sternberg (left) and David Abrahams (right)
The idea that Martin/David Abrahams is some kind of fringe outsider is being spun hard by the Labour party. Here he is pictured with Sir Sigmund Sternberg, a donor to Gordon’s leadership campaign and long time Labour party insider and financial backer. It was Sir Sigmund who sponsored Abrahams’ induction into the London Rotary Club last year.

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.

Newsnight transcript:

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: Absolutely.

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…

Harriet Harman Should Resign

Hilary Benn turned down £5000 for his deputy leadership campaign after Margaret Jay told him the cash from Janet Kidd was on behalf of David Abrahams. He insisted the cash should come from Mr Abrahams himself.

  • Gordon Brown also turned down £5000 for his campaign, so presumably his campaign team knew it was dodgy.
  • Peter Watt admits he knew about the money laundering scheme on behalf of Abrahams.

Despite her husband being the Labour party’s treasurer everyone seems to have known except for Harriet, she says she took the cash in good faith, that she thought it was a bona fide donation, that she did not know. In which case she will now of course repay the £5,000…

When the disgraced Blunkett was caught fiddling his expenses for his mistress he paid back the money – as if that made it alright. Whenever politicians are caught breaking the law they seem to think they can buy their way out of trouble with the same money they have cheated. That is not enough.

Harman is now chairman of the Labour party, her deputy leadership election was governed by electoral law. She received illegal funding for her campaign. It is that simple. If she had any honour she would resign this afternoon.

Incompetence is a Lie and No Defence

The excuse we are expected to swallow by Peter Watt is that he made an innocent mistake, he didn’t realise that using intermediaries to make donations was illegal. We are implicitly expected to believe that he didn’t think that money laundering donations was unethical either.

Before Peter Watt became general-secretary of the Labour party he was the party’s director of finance and compliance, a position which made him directly responsible for making sure the Labour party acted within the law. He had to be familiar with the law, it was his job. Indeed we now know that he was emailed by Rachel Savage at the Electoral Commission in July and explicitly told

If the original source of the donation is someone other than the individual or organisation that transfers the donation to the party, the individual or organisation making the transfer is acting as an agent for the original donor. Where a person acts as an agent in making a donation, they must ensure that the party is given all the relevant information as listed at paragraph 5.4 (s. 54 (6)). Transferring a donation to an agent rather than directly to a party must not be used as an attempt to evade the controls on permissibility and transparency.

Yet yesterday Peter Watt claimed:

“I was advised that, unbeknown to me, there were additional reporting requirements. Once I discovered this error, I immediately notified the officers of the NEC. I take full responsibility for the Labour Party’s reporting obligations.”

Unbeknown to him? He was explicitly reminded of his obligations, he must have know that the whole purpose of the legislation is to ensure that we have a democracy where we can see who is funding politicians and draw our own conclusions. Whatever the details of the donations, the principle of transparency has always been clear. Even when big party backers like Ashcroft and Sainsbury make donations through subsidiary companies they are meticulously transparent. There is absolutely no way Peter Watt could have been unaware of this fundamental legal tenet.

Clearly this was a deliberate attempt to camouflage donations from a property developer – why? Secret donations are against the law, there is no privacy permitted for donors, nor should there be. The law is clear, claiming ignorance of it when you are the official responsible for ensuring compliance with it won’t do. Peter Watt and Martin Abrahams should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

The penalties on summary conviction: statutory maximum of 6 months, or on indictment up to 1 year. It is way past time that crooked politicians tasted porridge and the law showed some teeth.

Benn Got £5,000 from Abrahams As Well

You have to give credit to Abrahams, he backed Harriet Harman for Deputy Leader with £5,000 through Janet Kidd, whilst giving another £5,000 to her rival contender Hilary Benn in his own name. Backing two horses in a race? Hardly shows a personal commitment, it is as if he is just throwing money at anyone in a potential position of influence.[…]


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