Labour in Blackpool: Whitty says Blair's 79,000 pounds campaign bill not excessive: Labour leader denies NEC row over variation in candidates' funding. Colin Brown reports

EXPENDITURE of pounds 79,000 on the leadership election by Tony Blair's camp was not excessive, Larry Whitty, the general secretary of the Labour Party, said last night.

Mr Whitty, who is being moved from his post by Mr Blair, defended the Labour leader's campaign bill, after the disclosure yesterday that it dwarfed the campaign budgets of his two rivals, Margaret Beckett and John Prescott, who each spent pounds 17,000.

The party's national executive last week imposed new rules to stop a repeat of such high spending on a leadership election.

The NEC fixed a ceiling on spending of pounds 25,000 and ordered the disclosure of the identity of any donors of more than pounds 2,000 to leadership campaigns.

The issue could be raised at the conference on Thursday when it endorses a motion calling on the next Labour government to introduce legislation to ensure that all substantial donations by companies to political parties are made only after a ballot of shareholders and employees, with some state funding for political parties.

Barry Cox, director of corporate affairs at London Weekend Television, and an old friend of Mr Blair, held a fund-raising evening at his Hackney home with 'Labour luvvies' - supporters among writers and television personalities.

Those who made donations to Mr Blair's campaign included Melvyn Bragg, the broadcaster and novelist, Ken Follett, the thriller writer, and Greg Dyke, the former chief executive of LWT.

David Puttnam, the film producer, promised money after being contacted by Mr Cox. Other donations were made by Jon Norton, a banker who lives with Mo Mowlam, Labour MP for Redcar, A total of pounds 88,000 was raised by the Blair campaign team.

Mr Blair said last night that there had been no row at last week's national executive over the differences in campaign funding between the three leadership candidates and added: 'The issue was not raised at the NEC.'

He said the reason for his own expenditure was that because of swift speculation after John Smith's death that he would be elected as leader. 'My office almost immediately had to operate on a completely different basis than we had before.' His office had had to take on extra staff simply to deal with a massive increase in the volume of correspondence.

The Labour leader's supporters were also furious at the report in the Independent On Sunday which said it had caused a 'very fraught meeting' of the NEC.

One close friend, who claimed the report was 'completely untrue', added: 'More money was spent than anticipated because the moment he was established as a frontrunner he was inundated with correspondence and inquiries. The workload for the office grew 20-fold from the moment he was looking set to become Labour's next leader.

'He needed money to take on a large number of staff very quickly,' the friend added.

Robin Cook, a Blair supporter and Shadow Cabinet member, said that he read the report 'with interest'.

He went on: 'Tony Blair won handsomely in all parts of the Labour movement and I am quite sure he would have done so whatever had been spent.'

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
musicOfficial chart could be moved to accommodate Friday international release day
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
News
i100
Sport
Italy celebrate scoring their second try
six nations
Sport
Glenn Murray celebrates scoring against West Ham
footballWest Ham 1 Crystal Palace 3
Arts and Entertainment
Drake continues to tease ahead of the release of his new album
music
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper / Office Co-ordinator

£9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This role is based within a small family run ...

Recruitment Genius: Designer - Print & Digital

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Design and marketing agenc...

Recruitment Genius: Quantity Surveyor

£46000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This property investment firm are lookin...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

Day In a Page

The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

Michael Calvin's Last Word

For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower