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. Why would he value their influence?

Harriet Harman Was on the Take Too…

Harriet Harman got £5,000 from Janet Kidd, a director of David Abraham’s Durham Green Developments Limited, for her deputy leadership bid. Presumably she knew who it really came from – or are we expected to believe she had no idea who was backing her? Really?

What Does a Property Developer Secretly Buy for £400,000?

Durham Green Developments Limited had a planning application for a business park development alongside the A1 motorway blocked by the Department of Transport.

Raymond Ruddick and Janet Kidd are directors of the company. Details of their directorships here [PDF]. They donated some £400,000 to the Labour party, secretly on behalf of David Abrahams, the owner of Durham Green Developments Limited.

In October last year the objection to the massive development was dropped by the Department of Transport. What a coincidence…

UPDATE : BBC reporting that Labour’s general secretary Peter Watt has resigned.

“Mr Watt told a meeting of officers of Labour’s National Executive Committee that he had known about the arrangement.”

So who else knew? Douglas Alexander was the Minister responsible for the planning objection…

CIA : BAE Bribed Hungarian and Czech Politicians

The New York Times is reporting this morning that the CIA discovered that Hungarian and Czech politicians received millions of dollars in bribes from BAE. The U.S. Department of Justice is stepping up its investigation into BAE.

The British government is not cooperating with the investigation. Hardly surprising when Blair blocked the BAE/Saudi corruption investigation on security grounds. Will they try that line again?

OLR Win 90% of Government Contracts

OLR has become the Halliburton of British politics. Whereas Dick Cheney’s old firm was suspiciously successful in winning war profiteering contracts, Gordon’s crony pollster Deborah Mattinson’s OLR wins focus group and citizen’s juries contracts. Guido explained how this works in September. In May Guido revealed the £153,484.38 focus group. Why does Gordon like OLR so much? Well could it be that they get (free of charge) research results that give Gordon 92% approval ratings? Teasy May has now written to Gus O’Donnell, the head of the civil service, demanding an inquiry. She says “Citizens’ juries are increasingly looking like a sham… Not only are these glorified focus groups wasting millions of pounds of taxpayers’ money but he has the nerve to award the contracts to his personal polling crony.” It is corrupt, plain and simple.

Labour Party Website Rips Off Taxpayer

This story might seem a bit trivial, but it neatly encapsulates the Brownie’s attitude to using taxpayers money for party political purposes. The most recent list includes; citizens juries making huge profits for Deborah Mattinson’s OLR so she can do “free” private polling for Gordon, the Smith Institute – Gordon’s private think-tank holding nearly two hundred meetings at No. 11 and the awarding to companies of over-priced government contracts whose directors coincidentally go on to do “free” work for the Labour party.

click graphic to enlarge
If you drill-down on pictures of Gordon on the Labour party website you find that they are attributed “Crown Copyright”.

click graphic to enlarge

It is possible that the Labour party has correctly paid for the pictures, Guido has been stonewalled on this, more likely somebody just used the official pictures paid for by the taxpayer for Labour’s private propaganda purposes. In the process stupidly forgetting to remove the “Crown Copyright” attribute. Separation of party and state is of course unnecessary when New Labour is “the political arm of the British people”. Nevertheless, somebody should ask Gus O’Donnell about this, since some taxpayers might object to paying for Labour’s photo ops…

Martin Bell Witnesses Crime, Keeps Schtum

Speaking at the University of Wolverhampton yesterday, Martin Bell told an audience at an open public lecture to plug his latest, book that “he saw and heard an MP trade his vote for a peerage while he was a member”. He explained that he wouldn’t name the party involved because he “didn’t want to spend the next 5 years in court”.

Some might think that reporting crime was a legal requirement, let alone a moral one, for the man in the white suit.

Huhne : Sue Me,”Labour Sold Honours”

Huhne has told the Indy that “the whiff of corruption has become a nauseating stench..there was an organised arrangement whereby a very large amount of money was donated to the Labour Party and at the same time the major donors received peerages and knighthoods”.

“It’s quite clear what was going on,” he said. “This was basically a supermarket in honours. It is completely mad to suggest other than this was an organised matter. I am very happy to say that on the record. If they [the Government] think otherwise they can very happily take me to a libel court.”

Huhne is no idiot, that is too vague to be libellous if it were untrue. You would have to say something more specific, such as “Lord Levy was intimately involved in the trading of honours for donations to the Labour party.” That would only be libellous if it were untrue, and that is why Lord Levy isn’t going to sue anyone.

Lord Hoyle Whores Himself to Arms Dealers

In what is in truth an everyday tale of New Labour sleaze, the Guardian exposes on the front page something that happens regularly at the Parliament of Whores in Westminster.

Lord Hoyle was paid a “counsultancy” fee by lobbyist Michael Wood, of Whitehall Advisers, a firm specialising in the murky world of lobbying for arms deals. The firm boasts in publicity of their ability to influence MoD purchases and that they have played a role in £10 billion of UK equipment procurement.

The undeclared payment is the subject of evolving explanations by Hoyle. He originally admitted to the Guardian

Lord Hoyle accepts he was asked to arrange the lobbyist’s introduction “to say hello to the new minister”. He told the Guardian that Lord Drayson was asked to come for a drink. Mr Wood was already there. He says he told the minister: “Mike Wood of Whitehall Advisers would like to meet you.”

At the meeting, which Lord Drayson, the Minister for Arms Procurement, appears to have correctly and formally noted, Mike Wood made his pitch for his firms clients.

So we have an undeclared, under-the-counter payment to a peer to introduce a lobbyist pimping on behalf of arms dealers to the Minister, Lord Drayson, in charge of buying arms – who himself bought his way into the legislature. Remember the 1997 promise of New Labour to be “whiter than white”…

UPDATE : As a co-conspirator points out in the comments, Tory MP Gerald Howarth obtained a parliamentary pass for Mike Wood. Why? He does enjoy a lot of defence related junkets…

Charity Commission Will Publish Sith Investigation Findings

Guido contacted the investigators at the Charity Commission recently to inquire as to how the eight-month long investigation into the wrong doings of the Sith was progressing. They won’t say as yet, but did promise they would publish their report online.

Gordon is pushing for a change in the laws the Smith Institute broke so that their actions are decriminalised. He told voluntary workers this week

“I do not personally believe that you can be an effective community and charity organisation… if you’re somehow limited in advocacy and your ability to speak and campaign on things you think are wrong. It should not be wrong for you to say `we urge you to support this cause.’ That’s a controversial thing as well.”

Ed Miliband, the ultra-Brownite Cabinet Office minister and frequent attendee of Smith Institute events at 11 Downing Street in the past, also reckons “Charities should be free to participate in appropriate ways in political activities. There are clear benefits to society from allowing charities to do so.” Clearly such a change would benefit the Smith Institute and that charity’s sole beneficiary – G. Brown.

Nevertheless this will be a change in the law that will allow tax rebates for political campaigning. Surprisingly enough Guido favours the change. Guido has never yet met a tax deduction he hasn’t liked…

Just so long as it is not retrospective and doesn’t get the sleazy Sith off the hook. Which is why a timely conclusion to the Charity Commission’s investigation is now overdue.

200 Pledge to Back Private Prosecution

Over two hundred people have pledged to contribute financially towards bringing a private prosecution over Loans for Lordships since the CPS has shown itself unwilling to do so.

Guido has taken soundings and now believes that the best course of action is to form a special purpose vehicle to instruct a legal team and take this further. It also seems wise to first allow the Public Administration Select Committee to conduct its investigation when MPs return after the recess. They will hold evidence sessions after Parliament returns from its summer recess, and report by the end of the year.

Tony Wright plans to call Assistant Commissioner John Yates as a witness. It will be particularly interesting to see what evidence comes out at that time. Meantime if you want to be involved in the formation of a vehicle to bring a prosecution or have relevant legal experience and knowledge, email Guido.

The Courts come to a halt and the political class will be on holiday for the next month. Guido will be in touch with pledge makers with more details in due course.

Surge of Net-Roots Support for a Private Prosecution

Since yesterday pledges of support for a private prosecution have come in thick and fast on the main PledgeBank website and a few via Facebook. You can even text ‘pledge cash4prosecution‘ to 60022 from your mobile phone. One substantial financial pledge via email will hopefully not be the last.

At this preliminary stage the intention is to convene a legal conference before the end of the month and go through the issues and examine the possible approaches including the establishment of a vehicle with a legally qualified advisory committee.

Guido is keenly aware of potential hurdles and risks. Surely the Attorney General will not be able to argue that the public interest is best served by turning a blind eye to what was manifestly an attempt to circumvent the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 Act? How will the public interest be harmed by testing in a court before a jury the legality of the Loans for Lordships scheme?

One example will give you a flavour of the Loans for Lordships scheme – Gulam Noon has publicly stated that he made a £250,000 donation to the Labour party, which he correctly submitted (via Downing Street) on his vetting papers for the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Two days later on October 5, 2005 Lord Levy, Gulam Noon reportedly claims, telephoned him and referred to the £250,000 donation as a “loan” which need not be disclosed on his vetting papers. The Levy-intercepted and revised vetting papers were submitted to the House of Lords Appointments Commission, now without mention of the £250,000 “loan” / donation. When the Commission independently discovered the existence of the “loan” / donation they blocked the peerage – as presumably Lord Levy knew they would – why else would he intervene in the process? What was the Labour party’s chief fundraiser doing intervening in the honours process anyway? Prima facie there is a case to answer. If the CPS won’t bring it, they should at least not attempt to block others from doing so.

UPDATE : The first target of one hundred people making pledges of financial support for a private prosecution has been met in less than 24 hours.

Private Prosecution : Pledge Support

Graphic courtesy of Beau Bo D’Or

Guido has been in discussion with some of m’learned friends after a careful reading of the CPS statement. The CPS has decided on a bar set very high to justify not prosecuting under the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 (‘the 1925 Act’).

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act, 2000 (‘the 2000 Act’) was dealt with far too perfunctorily in the CPS statement. More than one legal authority consulted by Guido thinks that there are avenues open to a private prosecution via the 2000 Act which have the advantage of not requiring the proving of a conspiracy.

The weakest part of the CPS statement is point 30:

In relation to possible breaches of the 2000 Act, we are satisfied that we cannot exclude the possibility that any loans made – all of which were made following receipt by the Labour Party of legal advice – can properly be characterised as commercial.

There are a number of related suspected offences under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 governing the evasion of restrictions on donations which provide a firm and clear basis for action. Crucially, a prosecution on this basis would avoid the difficulties of having to prove a conspiracy. It would also have the advantage that there are statements from donors already in the public domain which, contrary to the stated view of the CPS, exclude the possibility that the loans were made, or intended to be made, on a commercial basis.

The attempt by Levy et al to portray themselves as the victims of an over zealous policeman are contemptible. They deliberately subverted the law in a secret attempt to cover up donations made by persons they later put forward for honours. A fact they deliberately and disingenuously hid from House of Lords Appointment Committee. If you want to see justice done and the law upheld, pledge your support for a private prosecution here.

Do You Believe there is No Connection Between Cash and Honours?

Tony Blair created 292 peers. Millions were raised from the recipients of those honours.

The correlation between making large donations to the Labour Party and receiving an honour is extraordinary. Statistical analysis shows that 58.54% of all donors giving more than £50,000 to the Labour Party receive an honour. This compares to just 0.035% of non-donors. Large Labour Party donors are 1,657 times more likely to receive an honour than a non-donor and 6,969 times more likely to receive a peerage. It is almost impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Labour Party has been selling honours, including places in the House of Lords. An analysis of all donations over £50,000 since 2001 reveals that Honour certainly has its price. We publish below the average amount donated by the recipients of various honours – an “Honours Price List”. Those receiving a Peerage have given £1.07 million on average, and a Knighthood £747,000…

Source : The Price of Dishonour

Funding Facts:

  • 80% of Labour’s election funding came from the covert Loans for Lordship program.
  • Every donor who has given the party more than £1 million has been given a knighthood or a peerage.
  • Three quarters of those individuals who have given more than £50,000 to the Labour Party since 2001 have received an honour.

Look Who Flew in to Say Goodbye to Blair

Yates of the Yard is still chasing down evidence and statements to tighten up the case against Sleazy Levy.
Police flew in Ms Courtney Coventry yesterday to question her again about her dealings with Blair and Levy. In April 2004 she was canvassed by Jane Hogarth, the Labour party’s former head of high-value fund raising who supposedly has been made redundant – but is actually still working as a “consultant” to the party.

Lord Levy introduced Courtney, as a potential donor, to Tony Blair. The police want to know what Levy promised in return for a donation.

Innocent Drinks

Last night at the House, on the terrace, a co-conspirator spied John McTernan, drinking with Bridget Prentice. They moved on to the Strangers bar later that night. She is the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Ministry of Justice with responsibility for legal services. John was, you will recall, very helpful to Yates of the Yard with his enquires. Clearly they had much to discuss…

Politicians are Feral Spinners

Blair must reap what he sowed. The culture of New Labour is a culture of rapid rebuttal, the set “line”, the vicious rubbishing of enemies, the off-the-record briefing all backed up by armies of government media handlers and Special Advisers. 24/7 rolling spin…

Remember, for example, what they told us about the Women’s Institute member who led the slow-hand-clapping of Blair – that she had a National Front past.

[…] Read the rest

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