- The British Election Commission must investigate possible illegal donations to the Conservatives, and the demands of workers.
- Insider revealed last week that Boris Johnson’s party received multiple donations from companies that no longer exist.
- The Commission can impose fines of up to £20,000 per violation if the Conservatives breach election law.
Britain’s Labor Party has called on the Election Commission to conduct an “urgent investigation” into possible violations of the law by the Conservatives. This is after a investigation from the inside Which showed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s party got tens of thousands of pounds from companies that no longer exist.
In a letter to Commission Chair Bob Posner, Labor Chairman Annelise Dodds on Tuesday called for an investigation into three donations totaling £20,000 to the party by two companies, Stridwell Estates and Union Buildings.
By law, political parties may only accept donations from companies registered under the Companies Act 2006, which are incorporated and do business in the UK.
The Election Commission can go to court and confiscate donations if they are found to be illegal. The censor can also impose fines of up to £20,000 per violation.
According to Dodds, the political donations law is “clear.” She notes that Parties are strongly advised to carry out additional research into companies making donations, for example by checking relevant documents at the British Chamber of Commerce.
Donations from stalled companies
Insider reported last week that in November 2019, the Conservative Party accepted a £10,000 gift from Stridewell Estates, a company that closed in November 2016. The director was real estate magnate and Tory supporter Brian Gillis.
A Stridewell Estates spokesperson previously told Insider that “there must be something wrong.” […] It is very likely that the company that donated is incorrectly registered.”
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In June 2017, a donation of £6000 from Unionist Buildings was accepted by the local Conservative chapter in Aldridge-Brownhills. This is Rep. Wendy Morton’s constituency, who is also the Deputy Secretary of State.
The union premises dissolved in January 2017, five months before the gift. In January 2020, an additional £4,000 donation on behalf of Unionist Buildings followed.
Work requires work
Labor Party Chairman Dodds calls on the Electoral Commission to take action. She wrote to committee chair Posner: “I trust you will agree that these issues urgently need investigation to understand why officially dissolved companies make donations of thousands of pounds to the Conservative Party and Conservative MP.”
She continues: “I am confident that any breach of the rules will result in immediate enforcement, as part of the vital work of maintaining public confidence in campaign finance rules.”
An Election Commission spokesperson told Insider: “We can confirm that we have received a letter from Representative Anneliese Dodds, in her capacity as Labor Chair. We will respond shortly.”
Legislation must be changed
Meanwhile, political experts say laws and regulations governing political finance need to be tightened.
“Business donation rules make it very easy to funnel anonymous funds into UK policies,” said Steve Goodrich, Head of Investigations and Investigations at Transparency International UK. “Parties should at least verify that their donor companies are doing business in the UK, but this low threshold is almost useless.”
“The law should be changed so that political donations from corporations can only come from real business,” Goodrich said.
Shady’s donation from the Baroness Company
The Insider investigation also found that nearly £10,000 was donated to the Conservative Party by the Conservative Corporation, whose director was then Baroness Ver van Norbiton, now Deputy Secretary of State for Transport.
After making a donation on December 22, 2016, Vere petitioned to delist the company in February 2017. Under company law, when filing for dissolution of the company, directors must certify that the company “has not existed at any time in the previous three years.” […] trading it or doing business.”
Insider has contacted the Electoral Commission and the Governors for comment.
The Conservatives had previously told Insider: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently announced to the Electoral Commission and published by them.”
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