Sunday 4 April 2010

Sunday Times "sting"

It's worth letting the righteous spout their indignation before commenting on accusations of sleaze from newspapers ...

Statement from the UK Independence Party

Following the article in The Sunday Times (dated April 4th 2010) the UK Independence Party would like to make the following statement to clarify any misunderstandings.

As with all political parties, UKIP receives many offers of donations (both financial and voluntary help) everyday, so it was not unwise for Stuart Agnew MEP to follow up the offer made to him. Perhaps, however, it was naive of Mr Agnew not to realise it was a Sunday Times reporter in disguise. We would like to make it clear that no transaction between Mr Agnew and The Sunday Times journalist took place.

The UK Independence Party did receive donations via Global Britain, in 2009 for the European Election Campaign. All these donations were, at the time, perfectly legal and within the guidelines set down by the Electoral Commission. These donations were fully disclosed by UKIP in the second quarter of 2009.

When asked by The Sunday Times reporter if her anonymity could be guaranteed, Lord Pearson, Leader of the UK Independence Party, clearly stated (as reported in the Sunday Times article) that he would check with the Electoral Commission and "if there was any doubt I would honestly rather go without.'"

Lord Pearson also added that he was regularly in touch with the Electoral Commission over Global Britain and all donations.

Mark Wadsworth, UKIP Treasurer, said today: "All donations or loans to the UK Independence Party have been reported to the Electoral Commission."
The reporting of this "sting" by one of Rupert Murdoch's Tory-supporting newspapers was timed perfectly to try and cause maximum damage to the party that is going to cause maximum damage to Devious Dave's Conservatives in the election.  This has been in the pipeline since last month but has only been published after Nigel's appearance on Have I Got News For You and other positive media appearances.

Whilst some voters will undoubtedly be disappointed at the implication that UKIP is fiddling expenses, most will realise that this is the Sunday Times making a mountain out of a molehill.  There is nothing illegal about using intermediaries to donate money to political parties.  Millions of people don't opt out of the so-called political fighting fund (another name for what most of us would call a slush fund) when they join a union and contribute to the tens of millions of pounds that's funnelled straight into Labour Party funds.

We could really do without sleaze, real or imagined, but the important thing is, the law has not been broken.  All Stuart Agnew and Lord Pearson did was explain to what they thought was a potential donor how they could make an anonymous donation without breaking any rules.  It's unfortunate that Stuart Agnew told the undercover reporter that Peter Reeve doesn't do any work for him or David Campbell-Bannerman because it's not true.  Peter Reeve only works part time for the two MEPs and David Campbell-Bannerman does make use of his services.  The inevitable inquiry from the EU's anti-fraud unit, OLAF, will be an unnecessary distraction just as his services are most needed.