Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Extra six months jail for Lib Dem donor Michael Brown who fled fraud conviction

Michael Brown's term increased after skipping bail for new life in Dominican Republican
  • @adamsherwin10

The former Liberal Democrat donor Michael Brown, who was convicted of an £8m fraud, has had his jail sentence extended by six months for fleeing the UK.

Judge Alistair McCreath sentenced Brown to six months for breaching his bail, which will be added on to the seven-year sentence for fraud he received in his absence in May 2009, a court official said.

The multi-millionaire went on the run after stealing nearly £8m from former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards. He was arrested in the Dominican Republic last January. After posing as a well-connected bonds dealer, he secretly used investors' money to fund a record donation of £2.4m to the Liberal Democrats' 2005 election war chest. The party was later cleared of wrongdoing.

Last month a judge at Southwark Crown Court directed Brown to start his seven-year jail sentence after he was extradited to the UK via Spain. A court official at Southwark Crown Court said: "Michael Brown has received a sentence of six months' imprisonment for breach of bail.

"Nine days he spent in prison in Spain will be deducted from the sentence, which will run consecutively with the sentence he received for theft, perverting the course of justice and transferring criminal property in May 2009."

The Electoral Commission ruled in 2009 that the Liberal Democrats could keep the money, which was its largest-ever donation. It found the party had accepted the fraudster's donation in good faith.

Brown had claimed connections with royalty in order to steal the money. He used the cash to finance an "extravagant" way of life, as well as his political donation.

Police believe that Brown may have actually stolen up to £60m from a variety of figures, with an £18m haul still unaccounted for. He fled the UK on a flight out of Gatwick using a false passport in November 2008, sparking an international manhunt. He was living in the Dominican Republic under the name of Darren Nally, officials in the Caribbean said. He was arrested in the tourist town of Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic in January over an unrelated fraud charge.

The Dominican Republic does not have an extradition treaty with the UK, but Brown was deported to Madrid, from where he was brought back to the UK through a European Arrest Warrant secured by the City of London Police.

He is also wanted in Mallorca on fraud charges and may be sent back to Spain after completing his sentence in the UK. Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrat leader, has always maintained that the party did not have a moral obligation to pay the £2.4m back. Tom Watson, the Labour MP, published a draft letter written by Brown to police in which the fraudster claims that the party carried out only the most rudimentary checks into whether his company was trading legitimately.

The letter says: "In the case of the donation made by my company, very little due diligence was undertaken."

He went on the run after stealing £8m. In 2005 he gave a record £2.4m to the Liberal Democrats