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UK Politics

Suits come to the aid of the party, but actors back the rival

Frank Dobson raised more than two and a half times as much money from big donors as Ken Livingstone in his campaign to be Labour's candidate for London mayor, new figures seen by The Independent have shown.

Mr Dobson received a total of £100,500 from donors who gave £1,000 or more. Mr Livingstone received £38,450.

While Mr Dobson's donations came from a total of 14 major donors, many already known to be Labour Party supporters, Mr Livingstone's list included celebrities, individual supporters and even a group of electricians working on London Underground's Jubilee Line extension.

The biggest donors to Mr Dobson's campaign were the advertising guru Frank Lowe and Sir Maurice Hatter, an electronics tycoon, each of whom gave £25,000. He received £10,000 each from Isaac Kaye, a Labour donor in 1997 and chairman of Norton Healthcare; Barry Townsley, a donor in 1998 and stockbroker; and Clive Bourne, a supporter from Essex. The Iron and Steel Trades Federation donated £5,500 to Mr Dobson and the GMB general union for the London region gave £2,000.

The Soho Spice restaurant, a favourite haunt of Mr Dobson, which hosted a "thank-you" party for his workers, gave £5,000. Other donors included John Miskelly, the chairman of Stonewall, the gay and lesbian rights group, who gave £2,000; the Asian Business Network, which gave £1,000, and Sally Greene, a theatrical impresario and Labour donor in 1998, who gave £2,000.

Mr Livingstone's list was headed by Neil Pearson, the actor who appeared in Between the Lines and Drop the Dead Donkey. He gave Mr Livingstone £13,450.50.

A fund-raising evening at the Hackney Empire that featured Billy Bragg, Jo Brand, Phil Jupitus, Arthur Smith, Gina Yahere and Kevin Day raised £6,000 for Mr Livingstone's campaign.

The Transport and General Workers' Union gave the Brent East MP £5,000 while the London regions of the Fire Brigades Union and the Rail, Maritime and Transport union each gave £3,000.

Electricians on the Jubilee Line raised £1,000 for Mr Livingstone's campaign while a similar amount was given by Patrick Cosgrove, a QC.

MPs must declare donations in four weeks. A new version of the Register of Members' Interests with the candidates' declarations has been published on the internet.

Glenda Jackson, the only other MP who entered the race for Labour's candidate, funded her campaign with royalties from her appearances on the Morecambe and Wise show.

Mr Dobson's supporters denied there was a gap in financial support. Mr Livingstone earned substantial sums from speaking engagements and columns in The Independent and the London Evening Standard, they said. The figures also excluded donations of less than £1,000. "Frank Dobson certainly didn't have more money to spend than Ken," a spokesman said. He suggested a full-page advertisement in the Evening Standard such as ones taken out by Mr Livingstone cost about £16,000.

Labour limited each candidate's spending to £65,000 - £1 for each member in London. Mr Livingstone did not declare his spending before being thrown out of the party for standing as an independent.