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
To: BARRY, ALda
Subject: RE: Overlap

Thanks Alda.

This is very useful

Kind regards

Nikki

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

Nikki

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

Alda

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




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