The Independent has apologised and will pay a substantial sum to charity for an article that falsely claimed that Peter Cruddas, the former co-treasurer of the Conservative Party, was under formal police investigation.
In an article in June, this newspaper said that businessman Peter Cruddas was being investigated by Scotland Yard after showing a willingness to accept a donation of £250,000 for party funds despite being told the money would be coming from a Liechtenstein-based fund.
The article appeared three months after an article on the front page of The Sunday Times which claimed to recount what he said at a meeting with two of that newspaper's reporters posing as potential donors. Mr Cruddas, the executive chairman of online trading company CMC Markets UK, resigned from his party post on the eve of the publication of the Sunday Times report.
In one of the articles published by The Independent the police investigation was described as "serious". Under electoral law it is illegal to accept donations from foreign funds.
The Independent today retracts the suggestion that the Metropolitan Police had launched a formal criminal investigation. The Metropolitan Police said they had done no more than carry out a "proportionate assessment" of the Sunday Times material.
The officer in charge of the inquiry wrote to Mr Cruddas on 3 September this year to say that the inquiry had concluded there was no evidence of any criminal conduct by Mr Cruddas.
The Independent accepted at the High Court this week that there was no evidence of criminal conduct and acknowledged that Mr Cruddas was not under formal police investigation. It apologised for the false assertion that Mr Cruddas was willing to accept a donation for party funds despite being told that the money was coming from a foreign source.
It will pay Mr Cruddas' legal costs and make a donation to the Peter Cruddas Foundation, for the benefit of disadvantaged and disengaged young people.