Guardian lauds return of large private donors to Labour under Starmer. In 2007 it named some in reports of the ‘cash for honours scandal’

In an article on the Guardian website today, tagged as an Observer article, the paper has noted with apparent approval the imminent return of large individual donors to the Labour Party under Keir Starmer:

The article quotes Juliet Rosenfeld, widow of the late Andrew Rosenfeld, one of Labour’s biggest donors when Ed Miliband was leader, who said she had rejoined the party to vote in the leadership contest:

I voted for Keir and am delighted he has won… I will, and have, encouraged others to come back to Labour.

The names of other donors saying they will donate again are not specified, but former party fundraiser Michael Levy is quoted:

It’s very early days, but whereas I would say major donors would have had no interest over this last period, I think there is a real possibility now that they will return to the fold.

However, in 2007 the same paper was making different noises about large Labour donors – in an article about the Metropolitan Police investigation into the ‘cash for honours scandal’ and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) decision not to prosecute. Party fundraiser Michael Levy featured in the article, along with the late Andrew Rosenfeld, who was one of eight businessmen who had made large loans to the party and were subsequently nominated for peerages by Tony Blair:

The CPS asked the Met to investigate, but subsequently decided to lay no charges, saying it had not found direct evidence that honours had been requested or offered in return for cash.

Levy, who was arrested twice by police in the course of their investigation, first in July 2006 and again in January 2007, had solicited funds from the donors, according to the Guardian. They were subsequently told by a ‘senior party man’ that they did not need to declare the loans to the Appointments Commission because the law did not require declaration of loans.

According to the 2007 article, a diary of meetings between one of the donors and Levy was ruled inadmissible as evidence.

The Guardian also reported that Ruth Turner, Downing Street’s Director of Government Relations, was arrested during the investigation after police “recovered a document in which she appeared to have written that Lord Levy had asked her to lie for him”.

All those involved in the donations denied any wrongdoing. After the CPS decision not to prosecute, critics of the enquiry such as then-Labour MP Denis MacShane condemned the investigation as “politically instigated”.

Under Jeremy Corbyn, large individual donations were more than replaced by a mass of small donations and the party’s increased revenues, putting the party in a healthy financial situation for the first time in years. Unsurprisingly, the party’s right-wing machine tried to take credit for the change.

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