Rich Johnston’s above cartoon from some months ago was not far off the mark (though it missed Peter Hain). In interviews yesterday Wendy Alexander claimed “at the conclusion of my leadership campaign” she made inquiries to the Clerks to the Standards and Public Appointments Committee of the Scottish Parliament, as to if she was required to be registered under either gifts or election expenses.
In the press release she put out last Friday she said she received that advice on November 8. She became leader of the Scottish Labour MSPs on September 14, 2007. So the advice she got was sought nearly 2 months after the close of her leadership campaign. Not much use when you are permitted only 30 days to declare it. She was well out of time before she even sought advice.
Crucially the list also drew attention to the awareness of the donation’s illegality by stating at the end: “Permissible?” According to the Microsoft Word document file on which it was saved, the document’s creation date is November 5.
Although Wendy’s illegal and unreported donation is relatively small, her behaviour afterwards is going to prove difficult to explain. She denied all knowledge of the donation, until the day Guido reprinted her letter of thanks to the donor. There is also evidence that there was knowledge in her circle that there was an illegal donation.
A string of donations fell just below the £1000 threshold which suggests there was also a deliberate attempt to avoid donor transparency. The list of undeclared donations includes; GMB Scotland £999, Michael D Rutterford £999, Neil Davidson £995, Nicholas Kuenssberg £995, John Lyons £995, Phoenix Car Company £995, Strathvale Holdings Limited £995, City Refrigeration Holdings Limited £995, David J Pitt Watson £990, Paul Green £950.
The matter has now been referred for prosecution, another domino may yet fall…