Livingstone offers to return fighting funds

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Indy Politics

Ken Livingstone launched his first major "giveaway" as Mayor of London yesterday when he offered refunds to everyone who donated money to his election fighting fund.

Ken Livingstone launched his first major "giveaway" as Mayor of London yesterday when he offered refunds to everyone who donated money to his election fighting fund.

Mr Livingstone raised £709,586 from his appeal to Londoners at the beginning of the mayoral elections in May, mostly from small donations.

However, the maverick MP's election expenses only came to £389,000, or 55 per cent of the total raised, so he has offered to return 45 per cent of all donations. The biggest beneficiary could be broadcaster Chris Evans, who gave £200,000.

Mr Livingstone said he would write to all donors with his offer, although he would also invite them to donate the money to his re-election campaign in 2004.

The Brent East MP said he would give 45 per cent from donors who could not be traced to Centrepoint, the London charity for the single homeless.

"I am amazed and delighted that so many people responded to this appeal and made my independent candidature possible," he said.

"I am also grateful to donors big and small, but particularly gratified that we would have managed to raise the sum we needed simply from those who gave less than £1,000."

Mr Livingstone lodged details of the donations yesterday with Elizabeth Filkin, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

The biggest single contributor was Mr Evans, who gave £200,000 after Frank Dobson, Mr Livingstone's Labour rival, poked fun at redheads. He could now reclaim up to £90,000.

Another £104,642 was raised from an art auction by dealers Gimpel Fils. Besides these the largest single donation was £5,000 and only another 24 donations were more than £1,000.

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