If Ann Black’s report of Blair’s remarks to the March 2006 NEC meeting is verified (Blair said the donors “preferred the confidentiality”
of a loan) Blair is in deep trouble. He made the
remarks before the police investigation started. According to Ann Black –
“Tony Blair said that he understood members’ concerns and took full responsibility for everything done in the name of the party. Anyone giving to Labour was trashed in the media and so potential donors preferred the confidentiality of a loan.”
The cynics at the Evening Standard
didn’t believe the Blair spin. They contacted donors to find out if they really demanded confidentiality – the donors denied it. So it seems the loans scheme was an initiative of Downing Street to hide the identity of donors in defiance of laws his own government introduced to make party funding more transparent. It wasn’t because the donors preferred not to be trashed in the media, it was because Blair didn’t want people to see the blatant disregard for the law his peddling of peerages* showed. Give a million to Labour, get a peerage. It looked bad, the link was too obvious. Give a “loan”
and no declaration had to be made, no one need know about it apart from a few Downing Street insiders. When donors got their peerage no money would have have been seen to change hands, apart from a worthy donation to an Academy School perhaps. Some time later that loan to the Labour party could be quietly written off and converted into a declared donation. Well the donor is a Labour peer now, they would give money to their party, wouldn’t they?
The Standard says Sir David Garrard and Barry Townsley would have been happy to be named. They claim the only reason the arrangement was kept silent was because the letter confirming the loans stated: “You do not need to disclose this.”
It is already known that property developer Sir David, who lent Labour £2.3million, and stockbroker Townsley, who lent the party £1million, were both nominated by Blair for peerages. Chai Patel has said he offered £1.5million as a donation but was told by Sleazy Levy that Labour would prefer the money as a loan. He was later nominated for a peerage. Sir Gulam, who lent Labour £250,000, also offered a donation but was advised to make a loan. “My position is that I was very happy to contribute as a donation but that I was asked to give a loan”.
Combined with the above denials by donors that it was their idea to disguise donations as loans, what Blair told the NEC is an admission of guilt, he would be guilty of an offence in disguising a donation as a loan. Expect Ann Black’s account of the March 2006 NEC meeting to be trashed by Downing Street.
Blair says he accepts full responsibility for the Loans for Lordships scam, if Ann Black is telling the truth he and others in Downing Street are open to being charged under Part 4 of the PPER Act 2000:
Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000
PART IV, CONTROL OF DONATIONS TO REGISTERED PARTIES AND THEIR MEMBERS ETC
Evasion of restrictions on donations
Offences concerned with evasion of restrictions on donations. 61. – (1) A person commits an offence if he-
(a) knowingly enters into, or
(b) knowingly does any act in furtherance of,
any arrangement which facilitates or is likely to facilitate, whether by means of any concealment or disguise or otherwise, the making of donations to a registered party by any person or body other than a permissible donor. (2) A person commits an offence if-
(a) he knowingly gives the treasurer of a registered party any information relating to-
(i) the amount of any donation made to the party, or
(ii) the person or body making such a donation,
which is false in a material particular; or
(b) with intent to deceive, he withholds from the treasurer of a registered party any material information relating to a matter within paragraph (a)(i) or (ii).
Guido is often asked does he really believe that Tony Blair will face charges? If Ann Black’s account is accurate it amounts to an admission of guilt, the treasurer is on the record as saying he was kept in the dark about the loans. How can Blair not have a case to answer?
*Blair has created an unprecedented 292 peers.