Peter Watt guilty of offence under Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 for failing to disclose Abrahams "re-directed" gifts
Peter Watt was appointed as Labour Party General Secretary on 7 th November 2005 following a meeting of the National Executive Committee.
Peter was originally a nurse party and worked for 9 years as a local Labour Party organiser for Battersea and Wandsworth, then working in head office on election delivery and recruitment and then as Regional Director of the Eastern region, before returning to head office to head up the compliance unit.
Tonight he resigned from the post and made a statement
As General Secretary and Registered Treasurer I am legally responsible for the reporting obligations for the Party under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000."I was aware of arrangements whereby David Abrahams gave gifts to business associates and a solicitor who were permissible donors and who in turn passed them on to the Labour Party and I believed at the time my reporting obligations had been appropriately complied with..."
(over this weekend) I sought legal advice on behalf of the Labour Party."I was advised that, unbeknown to me, there were additional reporting requirements."
"Once I discovered this error, I immediately notified the officers of the National Executive Committee. I take full responsibility for the Labour Party's reporting obligations.
Dianne Hayter, Chairman of the NEC is reported saying . ...
"The National Executive Committee Officers of the Labour Party were shocked and disappointed to learn of the circumstances surrounding these donations which we became aware of when a newspaper contacted the party."Peter Watt has taken full responsibility and offered his resignation, which we have accepted.
Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000
2000 CHAPTER 41
Chapter II Restrictions on donations to registered parties
54 Permissible donors....
(a) any person ("the agent") causes an amount to be received by a registered party by way of a donation on behalf of another person ("the donor"), and
(b) the amount of that donation is more than £200,
the agent must ensure that, at the time when the donation is received by the party, the party is given all such details in respect of the donor as are required by virtue of paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 to be given in respect of the donor of a recordable donation.
(7) A person commits an offence if, without reasonable excuse, he fails to comply with subsection (5) or (6).
Which seems pretty fucking clear.
The Party is required to make regular Donation reports - these have to have a ...
66 Declaration by treasurer in the donation report
(1) Each donation report under section 62 or 63 must, when delivered to the Commission, be accompanied by a declaration made by the treasurer which complies with subsection (2), (3) or (4).
(2) In the case of a report under section 62 (other than one making a nil return), the declaration must state that, to the best of the treasurer’s knowledge and belief—
(a) all the donations recorded in the report as having been accepted by the party are from permissible donors, and ......
Which seems pretty fucking clear.
Ignorantia juris non excusat or Ignorantia legis neminem excusat (ignorance of the law does not excuse" or " Ignorance of the law excuses no one") is a public policy holding that a person who is unaware of a law may not escape liability for violating that law merely because he or she was unaware of its content; that is, persons have presumed knowledge of the law.
It is well settled that persons engaged in any undertakings outside what is common for a normal person, , will / should make themselves aware of the laws necessary to engage in that undertaking. If they do not, they cannot complain if they incur liability.
It would be interesting to know who else knew about the curious method of political gifts made by Mr Abrahams over a PERIOD OF OVER 5 YEARS.
One wonders how many more Mr Abrahams there are funding all three major parties ?
Mr Abrahams employees / Directors , according to the public records of the Electoral Commission, show that Mr Ruddick has donated £196,850 and Mrs Kidd £185,000 since 2003.
They are listed as having given the party £222,000 between them since Gordon Brown became leader, making them Mr Brown's third biggest donors after Lord Sainsbury and businessman Mahmoud Khayami.
Did anyone tell the Party Leader ?