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Re: Wendygate

Postby RichardTheRogue on Thu Jan 24, 2008 8:37 pm

Ok, sorry for the delay, but since the Labour donations scandals have hit the headlines again down south, here's a brief summary of Wendygate so far. It will be a bit of a cut 'n' paste job, but hey, that's what computers are good at, right?



Ms Alexander refuses to say whether she returned a leadership campaign donation of under £1,000 to a tax exile in the Channel Islands, the Sunday Herald newspaper reports.

It also says that she declined to release the name of the supporter, or to publish a full list of her backers in the Labour leadership campaign.


Ms Alexander's campaign manager, Tom McCabe, issues a statement naming the supporter as Paul Green and says it was indicated to Mr Green that only a UK resident or UK registered company could donate.

Labour checks Alexander donation

"We acted in good faith," said Mr McCabe.


Labour MSP Charlie Gordon quits as the party's transport spokesman in the Scottish Parliament, after admitting to two blunders over the £950 donation.

Labour donation 'clearly illegal'

He says he told the campaign team the donation was "under the auspices" of a Glasgow firm, Combined Property Services, and that Mr Green had a controlling interest in it.

"Unfortunately I was wrong in both these assumptions," says Mr Gordon.

Mr McCabe says full details only became clear at 1300 GMT that day and admits: "Clearly there has been a breach of the law as it stands."

Mr Green issues a statement later stating that he was asked by Mr Gordon to give £950 and was assured this was within the rules.

"Relying on that confirmation, I made the donation from my personal account," Mr Green added.


Wendy Alexander makes a speech in Edinburgh on the future of devolution and is questioned about the donations.

Alexander wrote to illegal donor

"I deeply regret that this situation has occurred", she says, and adds that the matter is being studied by The Electoral Commission, which has by now widened its probe into a study of all the £17,000 donated to her campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr Green says Ms Alexander wrote a thank you letter in October to his address in Jersey and reveals he gave a donation of £950 to the Glasgow South party five months previously, in April.

This came after an approach from Mr Gordon, who says he may have made a similar error of interpretation on that occasion.

In a further twist, the Scottish Labour Party says it had turned down the offer of a donation in the past from Mr Green because he was not registered as an elector.

It did not know of the Glasgow South donation and, if it had, would have advised that the money be refused.

Labour also confirms that Ms Alexander had "regulated donee" status, making her legally liable.


Ms Alexander says she intends to carry on as Scottish Labour leader, despite continued pressure for her to quit over the donation.

Alexander to continue as leader

Her comments come after the Sunday Herald newspaper suggests her campaign team was aware early last month that it may not be permissible.

In a statement, Ms Alexander rejects any suggestion of "intentional wrongdoing" and says she is "confident" of being exonerated by the electoral watchdog.

Meanwhile, the SNP's Mark Hirst complains to police about the matter "as a private individual".

SNP deputy leader and Scottish deputy first minister Nicola Sturgeon says Ms Alexander's position looks "untenable".

Ms Sturgeon suggests Ms Alexander is staying in post to act as a "human shield" for Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

The comments come amid the investigation into donations of more than £650,000 to Labour, made by property developer David Abrahams using other people's names.


As political opponents keep the pressure on Ms Alexander to resign the leadership, a former standards watchdog, Sir Alistair Graham, tells BBC Scotland that she must seriously consider her position.

Alexander urged to consider going

Sir Alistair says Ms Alexander should think about stepping back from the job while working to clear her name.

Meanwhile, Two labour peers ask police to investigate the leak of a list of donors to the Sunday Herald newspaper.

Lord Maxton and Baroness Adams - the former MPs John Maxton and Irene Adams - both gave money to Wendy Alexander's leadership campaign, but say that because their donations were under £1,000 they should have been able to remain anonymous under election law.


Ms Alexander again refuses to resign over the donation, saying such a move would be "wrong".

Alexander defies calls to quit

Speaking to journalists outside the Scottish Parliament, she acknowledges that mistakes have been made - but vows to fight on to clear her name.

Ms Alexander is given "unanimous" backing by Labour MSPs during one of their regular meetings at Holyrood, according to Labour MSP Duncan McNeil.

Meanwhile, Charlie Gordon reveals that he will soon make a decision on his political future, but declines to be drawn on whether he intends to quit as the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart.

In a separate development, Paul Green condemns "gross mismanagement" at the top of Scottish Labour.

Donor hits back over illegal gift

He tells BBC Scotland that his donation was clearly a personal cheque.


The Electoral Commission watchdog looking into the illegal donation confirms it has received information from Ms Alexander's office.

Watchdog given Alexander details

Labour says Ms Alexander supplied a "huge amount" of documents to aid the inquiry, which the commission says will be reviewed.

BBC Scotland also reports its understanding that the £950 cheque was made out to the W.A. Campaign and not Wendy Alexander.

This prompts Edinburgh University public law lecturer Navraj Ghaleigh to say that this could make campaign treasurer David Whitton liable.


Following his comments two days earlier, Mr Gordon says he plans to remain as the MSP for Glasgow Cathcart, despite his role in the controversy.

Gordon pledges to stay on as MSP

Mr Gordon says he will deal with whatever arises from the Electoral Commission "in due course".


Here's the letter from Wendy to Mr Green in full. It was addressed to his Jersey residence and dated 5th October.

" Dear Paul, I would like to thank you for your generous support for my recent leadership campaign.

I am very grateful to you and I am now honoured and privileged to lead the Labour Party in the Scottish Parliament.

I do believe with all my heart that Scotland is best served by the Labour Party in government and I am truly committed to the promise I made during my campaign that under my leadership Scottish Labour will reform, renew and reconnect with the Scottish people.

We will earn their trust again and get on the road for the journey back to government.

Thank you once again.

Best wishes. Yours sincerely

Wendy Alexander"


Here's Wendy's statement of 4th December

"I have never sought to mislead. I am not dishonest in any way and I have always believed that politicians should have the highest standards of integrity.

My campaign did not set out to intentionally mislead or break the rules.

Mistakes have been made. My future has been questioned.

It would be easy to quit, but also wrong. To give up this job in these circumstances would be also to give up my reputation for integrity and honesty and I am not prepared to do that.

The last few days have of course been hard, not just for me, but for my family and for the party. But I do intend to fully clear my name.

My first duty, however, must be to inform the Electoral Commission in full.

For the record, there is repeated correspondence initiated by me personally dealing with the issue of permissibility and demonstrating my interest in ensuring that donations received were indeed permissible.

However I believe, in the interests of fair play to everyone involved and in the interests of the truth, that the allegations levelled against me and my team are scrutinised by the Electoral Commission - the appropriate independent body for these matters.

And until such time as the Electoral Commission have completed their inquiries, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further.

So, in the meantime, I intend to get on with my job, the job that my party and my country expect of me, which is to lead Labour in the Scottish Parliament, holding the Scottish National Party to account

And I will of course on Thursday, be leading the debate to give the nation a better alternative than the flawed national conversation that we have from the government at the moment."

After Friday 7th December, all goes quiet. Whether this is because the 'independent' Electoral Commission is looking in to the affair, or because the Trump affair hit the headlines and distracted the media is anyone's guess. Why is it that the media act as if we can only hold one news story in our heads at any one time?

Today, Peter Hain has resigned to 'clear his name' after the electoral commission decided that his donations row should be investigated by the police. It is expected that the EC will make a decision about Wendy in the next week or so.

One last point. Ms Alexander has admitted breaking the law (she insists inadvertantly). Why on Earth does the EC have greater powers than the police? Unless my interpretation is wrong, it would seem that the police will not / cannot investigate until the EC says they can. Who are these people? What are their powers? What are their links with Labour, if any?

More later, as things unfold.
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