Revolting Coincidence

The Guardian this morning reported that “It was stressed yesterday by Steve Morgan, one of Hain’s campaign organisers, he had played no role in soliciting cash from the PPF to fund the deficits.” They clearly have absolutely no relationship to each other and his firm Morgan Allen Moore has nothing to do with the fake think tank. This is just a bizarre coincidence…

Hat-tip : Laban

Steve Morgan Distances Himself From Fake PPF Think Tank

The biggest rat on the Hain gravy boat is deserting the sinking ship. “My work ended the day the election for deputy leader took place [June 24]. Aside from personally donating £5,000 to the thinktank [sic] I have not been involved in fundraising for the thinktank.”

As an experienced spin merchant he is executing a PR technique known as CYA – Cover Your Arse…

UPDATE : Ian Gibson MP, not Morgan told the Guardian that he is “revolted” that the PPF appeared to have been established solely to channel funds to Hain’s campaign. The Guardian “article was amended on Tuesday January 15 2008. We conflated quotes from Ian Gibson and Steve Morgan in error. This has been corrected.” So Guido has amended this posting and deleted comments based on a reading of the article.

Mystery of Missing Clients

The two PR firms involved in donations to Hain’s campaign had something very interesting happen when Hain’s donor troubles hit the headlines. As you can see from the above screenshots, things started disappearing. Counter-productively for them this intrigued Guido. Morgan Allen Moore’s client list disappeared and T M Communications entire website went offline – which is strange for experts in “technology and communications”.

So Guido started digging around for their client lists. That is how the coincidence between Steve Morgan’s client Tesco and Hain’s “Every Little Helps” endorsement was uncovered.

TM Communications are not registered lobbyists with the APPC so their client list wasn’t on the register. It took some investigative digging to find a client list already in the public domain from their now deleted website. Their clients include Newport Networks, The Professional Golfers Association, and investment group Wesley Clover.

Newport Networks was set-up by Welsh billionaire Sir Terry Matthews, who is also the chairman of Wesley Clover and his Celtic Manor Golf Resort will be hosting the PGA Ryder Cup in 2010.

TM Communications say that their £1,500 donation to Hain’s campaign was made by them “on behalf of the directors and shareholders”. Not Sir Terry, he “doesn’t do politics”.

More Questions Asked About Hain’s Corporate Endorsements

Chris Grayling has written to Peter Hain listing pertinent questions. As has been pointed out previously on this blog, under the terms of electoral law, to be permissible, any company, such as the faux think tank, Progressive Policies Forum Limited, has to be actually trading in the UK.

Grayling ask what PPF’s “status actually is, what due diligence your campaign carried out into it, and what involvement you have had with it?”

He also asks about the corporate endorsements highlighted on here over the last week

“In your statement on Saturday afternoon you said that you had ‘checked with my Permanent Secretary whether there is any conflict of interest’. This statement raises more questions than it answers – questions it is essential you answer fully and urgently:

· I assume that ‘Permanent Secretary’ here refers to the Department for Work and Pensions; who have you contacted in the Wales Office to make the same checks regarding conflicts of interest?

· Have you discussed with the Permanent Secretary at the DWP and appropriate officials in the Wales Office comments you have made supporting Picture Financial Services, Tesco, the Cuddy Group, and indeed any other companies you have endorsed as a minister?

· When did you first make the Permanent Secretary at the DWP and appropriate senior officials in the Wales Office aware that donations to your deputy leadership campaign had been made by Neville Allport (CEO of Picture Financial), Steve Morgan (whose lobbying firm represents Tesco) and Mike Cuddy (Managing Director of Cuddy Group)?”

The conflict-of-interest aspect is the subject of Guido’s complaint to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards. It is a fascinating coincidence that donors to Hain’s Steve Morgan run campaign as well as clients of Morgan-the-Organ’s lobbying firm get gushing praise from their financial beneficiary – Peter Hain.

All too fascinating for Guido…

+++ 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?

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 gordonbrownforbritain.com “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

+++ Rumour of Arrests Over Donorgate +++

The London Evening Standard is reporting “imminent” arrests…

Brown Gives Bollocking to Hain

Brown has “expressed anger and disappointment at Peter Hain’s failure to disclose the full extent of donations to his deputy leadership campaign” according to the Guardian.

Gordon gave Hain a telephonic bollocking for ruining Brown’s New Year re-launch and blunting the intended counter-attack to Cameron’s welfare reform plans as announced by Chris Grayling. Grayling stingingly responded to Hain’s “Tory sums don’t add up” line with “Someone in Peter Hain’s position should be very careful about accusing anyone else of getting their sums wrong.”

Hain’s prospects in any cabinet reshuffle now look bleak. His department is obviously suffering from having a distracted Minister, a press release put out by the Department for Work and Pensions today has the headline “Brits struggle to make ends meet in the New Year”. The release contains their own polling figures showing that more than half of people in the UK (55%) spend more than they can afford and are “struggling”. Hardly the official message Brown and Darling are spinning of national economic strength. Perhaps if more Britons took out a loan from Picture Financial Services plc, sponsors of Peter Hain…

More Steve Morgan Anecdotes Please

Peter Hain’s sleazy lobbyist fundraiser, Steve Morgan, told Radio Wales this morning that he had been brought in to the campaign to “bring order to chaos”. A source retorts “bollocks”. Every donation, they insist firmly, was properly accounted for up until the moment Phil Taylor walked out after falling out with Morgan. The documentation Guido got hold of in May seemed very precise and backs this up.

Hain’s allies are furious at Morgan’s audacity. Guido hears so many bad things about Mr Morgan. Do email more to Guido.Fawkes@Order-Order.com.

Credit Crunch Over Hain’s £5,000 from Loan Company CEOHe Gave Ringing Commercial Endorsement to Backer

Carol Vorderman charges a fortune to advertise debt consolidation company FirstPlus. Peter Hain got a donation of £5,000 from rival debt consolidaton company boss, Neville Allport, his Picture Financial Services plc offers easy credit – “You can even borrow up to 125% of the value of your home” says the website “something that traditional lenders won’t consider.” They won’t consider such gearing because it is financially reckless.

Prominently displayed all over the company website is Hain’s ringing commerical endorsement. Guido can’t recall a serving minister’s endorsement ever being used to advertise a company in this way. Guido is sure that Hain’s endorsements and the £5,000 donation are entirely coincidental.

The 10.9% APR charged to credit maxed out debtors is very profitable, which probably explains why Ronnie Cohen’s Apax Private Equity is the biggest investor in Picture Financial Services plc. Remind Guido again where Hain stood on the Private Equity issue during the deputy-leadership campaign…

UPDATE : Looks like Hencke and Wintour on the Guardian are joining the chase this morning, with a front-page splash on Hain’s missing declarations. They are (rightly) fingering sleazy lobbyist Steven Morgan, identified by Guido in May 2007 as responsible for raising the cash.

The story points vaguely to an undeclared circa £10,000 from “City or business people”. Hain is said to be personally auditing the figures. Don’t forget the benefits-in-kind Peter…

Hain’s Suspiciously Slow Declaration

On the morning of December 3 earlier this month Guido called up one of Hain’s (until that day) undeclared financial backers to make enquiries. By that afternoon Hain had made a dash across to the Electoral Commission, allegedly entirely unrelated, to clear up a few omissions.

Sky’s Joey Jones wonders why Hain’s team is taking so long to get the information out into the open. Joey asks

So why the delay? – Is there a bigger can of worms than we had thought?

Hain’s team say they want to get their submission absolutely right. I know it may sound a bit cynical for this time of year, but I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if the information got sneaked out once everyone’s headed off for the holidays…

Guido has his own suspicions. Don’t worry Peter, Guido will break away from his holidays to make sure it doesn’t go unreported. Don’t forget anything this time Peter, it would not look good if Guido had to point out an omission again…

Failure to Follow-Up

Guido has been busy Christmas shopping, spending his Clegg bets winnings, which were not as much as they should be because Guido reduced his exposure as the campaign progressed, or rather as Clegg’s campaign failed to progress.

Meantime in the red corner of Guido’s blog comments a number of posters are complaining that Guido has failed to follow up the scandal of Cameron’s Dodgy Donors.

[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

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