City trader gave Lib Dems record £2.5m for election

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A City trader bankrolled the Liberal Democrats' general election campaign with a gift of £2.5m, the party's biggest donation.

A City trader bankrolled the Liberal Democrats' general election campaign with a gift of £2.5m, the party's biggest donation.

Michael Brown's donation was part of a record income for the Liberal Democrats of £4,164,970 during the first three months of this year. The party received £500,000 before the 2001 election. It won an extra 11 seats in this month's poll.

Mr Brown made his donation though his London derivatives company 5th Avenue Partners Ltd.

The Scot flew the party leader, Charles Kennedy, to the Liberal Democrat spring conference in Harrogate in March. Mr Kennedy is said to have impressed him at the conference and he donated the money because he wanted to ensure the Liberal Democrats were on a more "even footing" with Labour and the Conservatives.

The identity of Mr Brown ­ a little known figure who keeps a very low public profile ­ was kept secret during the campaign, but was revealed in details of party political donations for January to March published by the Electoral Commission yesterday, which showed he donated £2,419,000.

Lord Razzall, the Liberal Democrats' campaign chairman, said Mr Brown's gift had enabled the party to spend between £5m and £6m during the election campaign, its largest budget yet.

"We were able to spend significantly more in the recent general election campaign than we were in 2001. We are confident that in the months and years ahead, we will keep attracting new supporters, enabling us to continue to provide a real alternative in Parliament and in the country," he said.

But the Liberal Democrats still received less money than Labour and the Conservatives in the three-month period. The Tories received £8,050,707, while Labour got £9,144,704. Lord Sainsbury, the Science minister, was the biggest individual donor to the Labour Party with a £2m gift, which brought his total donations to Labour since 1996 to £13.5m.

The Tories received a series of donations from the businessman Lord Ashcroft, who has just gained a seat on the Conservative party board. He gave around £284,000 in donations to marginal seats through his company Bearwood Corporate Services.

The party donors


Lord Sainsbury of Turville, Science Minister and Sainsbury's billionaire: £2m

Nigel Doughty, venture capitalist and chairman of Nottingham Forest football club: £250,000


Joseph C Bamford, construction equipment millionaire: £1m

Maurice Bennett, clothes retail tycoon: £500,000


Greg Dyke, former director general of the BBC: £10,000

Michael Brown, trader in derivatives: £2,419,064