Across the north east of England people are asking questions about property developments and the role of the Labour Party.
Newcastle businessman David Abrahams made donations to Labour totalling more than £650,000, in the names of other people.
One north eastern Labour party source told Socialist Worker, “For years landlords and developers have been working hand in hand with politicians, not always for dodgy reasons.”
A police investigation has been launched into why Abrahams’s company, Durham Green Developments, was granted planning permission by Durham City Council for a multimillion 540-acre business park on green belt land after his application was initially refused.
Another development in the region is now coming under scrutiny.
The application for 12 houses and nine flats in George Street and Chapel Lane, Haswell, was approved by Easington District Council in July last year, despite planning officers initially raising concerns.
There is no suggestion of any link between the donations and the planning outcomes.
We do know that Labour’s general secretary Peter Watt knew about the Abrahams donations and resigned.
We do not know what his predecessor Matt Carter knew about the donations.
Carter, a north east Labour Party organiser, left the post after the 2005 general election.
However in March 2006 he wrote to potential donors saying any loans would not have to be declared.
Of the 22 Labour donors who have given more than £100,000 since 2001, some 17 have received honours.
Of course it is possible that when Labour politicians say they cannot recall ever meeting Abrahams, they are telling the truth. Abrahams says he was placed next to Jon Mendelsohn, now Brown’s fundraiser, on
25 April at a dinner where Brown was the guest of honour.
Abrahams says he told Mendelsohn “that I regularly donated to the party and I described how it was done through intermediaries for the purposes of anonymity”.
Mendlesohn is said to have replied, “That sounds like a good idea” – a statement he denies making.
Abrahams has met Blair, Lord Levy and Baroness Jay a number of times since 2003 at fundraising events and claims to have been to 10 Downing Street on “several occasions”.
He sat in the front row when Blair gave his resignation speech in Sedgefield earlier this year.
Brown says of Abrahams that he “probably met him on occasion”.
Abrahams has given at least £312,000 to Labour since Brown became leader.