03/12/2007

More Questions Than Answers On Labour Party Donations

The Government is to have no respite from the growing chorus of questions on party funding activities.

Opposition parties have continued to maintain pressure on the Labour party funding issue, demanding to be told who knew about donations to the party.

Senior Liberal Democrat MP Chris Huhne is to see the police to raise concerns about a planning deal involving the Labour donor, David Abrahams.

There will also be continued pressure on Labour's leader in Scotland.

Wendy Alexander has refused to resign over an illegal donation to her leadership campaign.

Both Conservative Leader, David Cameron - who is holding his latest monthly media conference to highlight the issue - and Lib leadership contender Chris Huhne are seeking to keep the donations row at the top of the political agenda.

They do so as Gordon Brown seeks to get the focus back to the business of government with plans being unveiled for reform of cancer services and treatment.

However, Mr Huhne has other ideas and is to speak to police in Durham about the planning deal involving Mr Abrahams.

He is alleging that Mr Abrahams had a ruling against plans for a business park, in which he had an interest, overturned in the same year as he made a large donation to Labour.

Both he and the Labour Party deny wrongdoing but Mr Huhne wants an investigation.

Mr Cameron has demanded to know who knew about Labour's proxy donations, saying it is "incredible" that top Labour officials did not know the law.

It "beggars belief" that Gordon Brown knew nothing about the donations, he added, and said the PM was trying to "spin his way out" of the row.

But Labour's chief whip Geoff Hoon said Mr Brown had been "completely shocked" and "really upset" by the revelations.

Health Secretary Alan Johnson admitted it had been "a dreadful week for the party".

The donation row was prompted by the revelation that property developer David Abrahams had given Labour more than £650,000 since 2003 under four other people's names.

(BMcC)

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