Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2864

Loophole lets Tories trouser £9 million in secret donations 

Troublemaker looks at the week's news including Tory dodgy donations and the cops pay out over corruption
Issue 2864
Michael gove standing next to wine biottles

Michael Gove the minister for levelling up donations to the Tory party

Michael Gove has refused to close a ­loophole that has allowed the Tories to rake in more than £8.7 million from secretive donors. Existing election law has let the Conservatives bank the fortune in the last five years through so-called ­unincorporated associations. These are clubs that don’t have to say where their money comes from. Last week alone, the United and Cecil Club, which does not disclose its donors or fundraising methods, handed £44,000 to six Tory MPs’ local parties.

And levelling up secretary Gove—whose department is in charge of regulating election finance—has accepted donations worth £190,000 to his local party from the Magna Carta Club, a “dining club” which operates under the loophole. Ministers dismissed ­recommendations from a government body to close the gap in the law. The  Committee on Standards in Public Life made 47 recommendations of ­funding two years again none have been implemented. 

The loophole has allowed £14 million to be funnelled to MPs and parties from unknown sources since 2018. The Tories are by far the biggest benefactor. Unincorporated Associations that donate more than £25,000 to political parties in a single year, are supposed to declare anyone who gives more than £7,500 to them in the same year. But they’re not required to check the identity of their donors, and only need to declare “whatever details the association knows of the name and address” of the donor. Unincorporated associations have made £28 million in political donations since the rules were last updated in 2010. Over the same period they have declared receiving just £27,500 in political gifts.

Cashing in on low pay

Sixty firms which failed to pay the minimum wage received £3.36 billion of public cash, it has emerged. The companies—among 202 named and shamed by the Department for Business and Trade—have been paid for government contracts since 2016. Highest earner was LloydsPharmacy, which underpaid 7,916 staff by £903,307. It netted £2.47 billion for in-hospital pharmacies, analysts Tussell found. Logistics giant Kuehne+Nagel, which mispaid 173 staff, raked in £299 million, and schools caterer Cater-link, which underpaid 61 staff, got £150,720,584. Loganair, which underpaid 43 staff, received £95,509,496, Tussell’s research showed. Other underpaying firms handed big deals included McNicholas Construction (£146.8million) and BNP Paribas Real Estate (£111million).

Met cops to pay Morgan family

Scotland Yard is set to pay a £2 million settlement after admitting that the investigation into the unsolved murder of a private detective more than 35 years ago was corrupt. Daniel Morgan was found dead in the car park in south London in 1987. No one has ever been convicted. Five investigations by the Met have failed to yield a conviction. Sir Mark Rowley, the Met commissioner, was expected to make a public apology this week for “corruption, incompetence and defensiveness”.

An official inquiry into the scandal in 2021 found that the Met was “institutionally corrupt”. The Morgan family sued the force, launching their civil claim. The lawsuit alleged widespread wrongdoing as identified by the inquiry. The settlement means the police force will avoid costly and embarrassing civil proceedings.

  • Rishi Sunak has finally made it as a piece of tat. After 260 days in office, he has been immortalised in china as part of the House of Commons gift shop’s line of prime ministerial Toby jugs. Sunak joins 20 others—every PM since Bonar Law, save Ramsay MacDonald. Leaders aren’t as valued as they were, though. In 2013, a David Cameron jug cost £30.50, which should be about £37 today, but Sunak is selling for £32.

  • Another hereditary peers’ by-election is required after the death of the 4th Lord Palmer, crumb of the Huntley & Palmers biscuit family. Palmer owned a 110-room mansion in Berwickshire with the world’s only silver-plated staircase. In 2000, he appealed for volunteers to polish it in return for wine and sandwiches. In 2021 he secured a debate on food waste to which his contribution was to moan about sell-by dates. “I once ate a biscuit that was 20 years old,” he said. “It was perfectly edible.”

Posho parties ruining Cornish seaside town

A West Country beach has been plagued by rowdy “feral rich kids” causing havoc. From uprooting and burning trees to vandalising emergency equipment, locals have been dismayed at the youngsters’ actions.

Countless smashed bottles of fizzy wine were found alongside empty gas canisters last year during the summer season. Locals believe private school pupils were behind the trouble as it started two weeks before state school summer holidays began. The town has the second highest levels of second homes in Cornwall.  According to pasty seller Tim Jenkins, “I’ve seen these kids get dropped off at mummy and daddy’s second home with a credit card and a bag of booze. Happy days. But expensive education doesn’t seem to translate in good behaviour—at least for a minority of them.

“It’s like they go feral. I think it’s the attitude of the parents that’s to blame.”

Spot your freeloading MP at a festival near you

It’s freebies season for MPs and the latest register of members’ interests reveals who has been getting summer perks. Labour MPs Ed Miliband, Louise Haigh, Alex Sobel, Kevin Brennan, Darren Jones, Clive Lewis and Mark Tami and Sir Ed Davey, the Lib Dem leader, took tickets to Glastonbury–to the tune of £13,500. Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader, and Sam Tarry MP, went to the Parklife festival in Manchester.  On the other hand Tories lead 5-2 on the Lord’s Test match and 4-1 on Royal Ascot (James Wild and Paul Scully went to both). James Daly, James Morris, Bob Blackman and Michael Tomlinson all took a trip to the Netherlands with the APPG for cricket, worth £5,000. Claire Coutinho, Ruth Edwards and Andrew Griffith raked in £1,200 in Ashes hospitality tickets.  Meanwhile Sunak’s donor-funded jet-setting amounted to £55,000.

Things they say

‘We are not Amazon… I told them that last year, when I drove 11 hours to be given a list’

Defence Minister Ben Wallace moans that the Ukrainian government is not showing enough gratitude for all the weapons the Tories are giving it

‘Somewhat misrepresented’

Ben Wallace says his comments were misunderstood and had nothing to do with him announcing his intension to resign as a minister and MP

‘I don’t think hard working families would want their tax spend on funding trade union reps campaigning on trans rights’

Tory MP Paul Bristow responds to the idea that Labour would back union equalities reps having statutory rights to conduct activism during working hours

‘Developments which have brought the appointments system into question’

A parliamentary report into how many mates Boris Johnson gave peerages too

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