Anonymous Labour fund given the all-clear

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The Independent Online
The Labour's Party's fund to raise money from anonymous donors has been given the all-clear by an all-party committee of MPs which has decided not to investigate it. The controversial "blind" fund was set up in 1995 as a way of raising money in such a way that the identities of the donors were not known to anyone in the party apart from the board of trustees, chaired by Lord Merlyn-Rees, the former Home Secretary.

The fund was the subject of a complaint by David Shaw, the Tory MP for Dover, who last year wrote to Sir Gordon Downey, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, suggesting it was "inconceivable that a donor would not seek to draw the receiving MP's attention to his donation at some time". However, the Labour Party had taken the precaution of checking with Sir Gordon whether the fund breached parliamentary rules, and Sir Gordon felt he had to refer the complaint to the Standards and Privileges Committee.

Now, the committee has effectively rejected the complaint by deciding that it would only consider the allegation that Mr Blair knew about the identity of donors to the fund and has asked Mr Shaw to provide evidence on that point, which is likely to prove impossible.

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