Sugar's £400,000 sweetener for Labour

Enterprise tsar Lord Sugar has

donated £400,000 to the Labour Party, he announced yesterday.

The Labour peer said he gave the boost to the party's coffers to assist with its running costs during the general election campaign. Lord Sugar, star of BBC show The Apprentice, said he had donated cash during previous campaigns.

Lord Sugar, 63, who was knighted for his services to enterprise last year, said: "I can confirm that I have agreed a donation of £400,000 to the Labour Party.

"When I have made political donations in the past, I have always done so at the time of a general election to assist in campaign running costs.

"I adopted this policy in 1997 and 2001 and am doing the same again this time."

The donation is the biggest the peer has made since he gave £200,000 in 2001 and £150,000 in 1997.

Business Secretary, Lord Mandelson, praised Lord Sugar as "a great example for British enterprise and the values of hard work". He added: "I'm very pleased that he has again chosen to show his support for Labour."

However, Lord Sugar's donation does raise the issue of BBC impartiality.

BBC guidelines warn staff: "Political activity is not acceptable if it is likely to compromise the BBC's impartiality or undermine public confidence in the BBC."

But a spokesman for the BBC last night said Lord Sugar's donation did not breach this rule. "People who work for the BBC are entitled to make political donations. This is does not conflict with Lord Sugar's role," added the spokesman.

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