Hague link to fraud investigation firm

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The Independent Online
LABOUR is seeking to implicate William Hague, the Conservative leader, in a failure to declare an interest in the MPs' parliamentary register.

Phil Woolas, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, will this week raise the allegation of undeclared interest in the Commons, seeking approval for a reference to Sir Gordon Downey, the parliamentary commissioner on standards.

The allegations relate to Mr Hague's use of offices donated by Corporate Services Group for his leadership campaign.

The Tory leader declared in the Register of Interests that "office accommodation was made available by Mr Jonathan Sayeed MP".

Mr Sayeed, a Tory MP before 1992 and re-elected to the Commons at the last election, is understood to have been Training Manager for CSG while not a member of the House. Neither Mr Hague nor Mr Sayeed make any reference to Corporate Services Group in the register.

Mr Woolas said last night: "I intend to raise this issue in parliament on 5 March at Business Questions, and, if then advised to do so, to write to the parliamentary commissioner.

"The failure to register the CSG as an interest by either William Hague or Jonathan Sayeed would appear to be intended to avoid embarrassment following an investigation into CSG by the Fraud Squad. One or the other of them is clearly at fault."

Offices of the training division of CSG were raided last month by Scotland Yard detectives investigating a suspected pounds 26m fraud on government-funded contracts to train the unemployed.

Mr Hague did declare in the register gifts amounting to pounds 110,000 for his leadership bid.

n Conservatives have carried out a quiet U-turn on taxpayer funding for political parties, proposing grants, civil service support and tax breaks as Labour prepares to legislate against their secret sources of cash. In evidence to the Neill Committee on Standards in Public Life, the Tory party rejected state funding, but set out ways in which it might benefit from the public purse.They say they want the committee, on funding politics, to look further into encouragement for private individuals to donate.

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