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Monday, November 26, 2007

Dreading Another Ruddslide

As if the cash-for-honours debacle wasn't enough and the recent revelations that Sir Ian Blair was directly involved in the inquiry and may have been protected in the Jean Charles de Menezes affair as a quid pro quo, today we have to put up with this exposé. Ray Ruddick, it transpires, is a jobbing builder who drives a battered Transit van, lives in a £12,000 house and is quoted as saying: "I've never voted in my life. I can't stand Labour. I can't stand any politicians." Which makes it all the more implausible that he should have donated £196,850 to the Party since 2003.

Thankfully, Mr. Ruddick does not have to explain his profligacy either to his wife or to HM Revenue and Customs, due to the intervention of reclusive Geordie property developer David Martin Abrahams, who has confessed to having borrowed the blue van man's identity for the purpose of funds transfer.

Millionaire Labour donor, David Abraham-Martin-And-John
The son of a former Lord Mayor of Newcastle, Abrahams is a director of six property firms in the northeast and has a home in Gosforth and a flat in North London. He served as a Labour councillor in Tyne and Wear and was a close friend of Tony Blair.

The blurred photo that appears in many of today's newspapers was cut from a snap taken in June, when he was present as Tony made a speech to the local Labour Party in Sedgefield announcing his decision to stand down and quit Parliament.

In an interview with the Radio 4 Today programme reported in today's Times, Abrahams revealed that he had been making donations to Labour through friends and colleagues since before the Labour cash-for-honours affair.

Insisting he was unaware of having done anything wrong, he stated: "I didn't have the rule book in front of me when I suggested the donations, and I wasn't aware until this weekend that any third party had to be identified specifically".

David Abrahams is no newcomer to controversy. He once faced a trial in which he was accused of illegally evicting a tenant but was subsequently cleared of all charges. He was selected to stand as a parliamentary candidate for Labour in Richmond, North Yorks against William Hague in 1992, but was deselected after a gruelling series of rows with the CLP over his personal life and business interests. There were claims that he had presented himself as a married man with a young son when he was, in fact, single. He blamed the row on a smear campaign. During the deselection row in Richmond it emerged that he used two names: he was known as David Abrahams to Party members, but tenants of the string of properties he managed in the Newcastle area knew him as David Martin.

Just for the record, the law says:

Where —
(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.
In turn, paragraph 2 of Schedule 6 says:
In the case of an individual the report [to the Electoral Commission] must give his full name and —
(a)if his address is, at the date of receipt of the donation, shown in an electoral register (within the meaning of section 54) [or the Gibraltar register], that address; and
(b)otherwise, his home address (whether in the United Kingdom or elsewhere).

It's readily available on the internet, with explanatory notes for the particularly thick. So short of hiring Cherie as his defence counsel, it doesn't look like Mr. Abrahams stands much of a snowball's chance in hell of getting away with it (unless, of course, he can come up with a damned good quid pro quo). Looks like we may lose yet another source of election wonga.

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