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Sunday, 22 April 2012


Lots of bleating in the media today about Michael Brown, particularly from the LibDems about the Electoral Commission allowing them to keep £2.4 million of stolen money because they acted in "good faith".  Actually the Electoral Commission did nothing of the sort.  The good faith contention came from the LibDems, but as we all know, their leadership was drunk at the time. What the Electoral Commission said is recorded here, and the relevant extract was:

To be a permissible donor, a company must be registered under the Companies Act 1985, incorporated within the UK or another EU member state, and be carrying on business in the UK. The Commission has concluded that 5th Avenue Partners Limited met these requirements at the time the donations were made, and therefore was a permissible donor.
The Commission also considered whether there was a basis for concluding that either Michael Brown, as an individual, or 5th Avenue Partners GmbH (the parent company of 5th Avenue Partners Limited) was in fact the true donor. Neither of them would have qualified as permissible donors under PPERA.
The Commission has concluded that there is no reasonable basis to conclude that the true donor was someone other than 5th Avenue Partners Limited.
which all sounds fine and dandy except that when Brown was tried and convicted oif fraud, the High Court convinced themselves and made clear in their judgement that there was absolutely no business involved in 5th Avenue Partners.

The fact that the Electoral Commission didn't prosecute is down to a "political decision" by the Electoral Commission, originally by Sam Wardle the former Chief Executive.  I was the original complainant in May 2005 about Michael Brown, a few hours after the donation was announced (and I had done enough checks to spot that the donation was fishy).  I complained through my MP.  When there was no response after several months, he collared the Sam Wardle at his party conference.  Still nothing happened, and months later when pushed, the Electoral Commission said that they couldn't comment while Brown was under investigation by the police.  When I eventually reached Wardle by telephone, he said that it was unlikely the Electoral Commission would do anything because it was their job to preserve democracy, not to bankrupt political parties.

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