David Abrahams: I value my privacy. Labour knew this was a deal-breaker

The son of a Newcastle mayor has long sought to offer low-profile help to his party, but he feels he is being treated by some as if he had stolen from it
Click to follow
The Independent Online

It is a week since my donations to the Labour Party were made public. The Prime Minister is said to be furious. So he should be. So should I be. I gave my money to help the Labour Party, not to provide an opportunity for the media and Opposition to mock us.

Gordon Brown has been badly let down by his chief fundraiser and the party's poor compliance practices. In the absence of anyone admitting administrative error, the furore has been fuelled by spin, Chinese whispers even downright dissembling on the part of some party figures. I will keep my detailed evidence for any enquiry but first let's just get some of the facts straight.

For 40 years I have been a supporter of, member and activist in the Labour Party candidate, councillor, canvasser, and fundraiser as were my parents before me. The Labour Party is in my blood. My name is David Martin Abrahams. In business I have often been known as David Martin because I wanted to carve out my own business career, away from the shadow of my father who had been a Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

Newcastle is my home town. It is where I am registered to vote, a fact that makes me eligible to donate to a political party. That I am an eligible donor under the law was checked by Labour Party officials, and similarly they checked that my associates were on the electoral roll and therefore entitled to make a donation. At no time did I think I was doing anything wrong. At no time was I told that I was doing anything wrong.

I was brought up to believe that if you make money, you have an obligation to use it to help other people. I have supported a number of charitable causes anonymously, and I wanted to support the Labour Party anonymously too. Party officials knew of my wish to retain my privacy and were only too happy to accept my money via intermediaries. If they were not, they would have returned it sooner.

There is nothing wrong or unusual in wanting to give anonymously. My father taught me that if you make money you don't flash it about; you give with discretion and because you want to. And you do not ask for anything in return.

Since 2003 I understand I have donated more than 670,000 to the Labour Party, although if you had asked me just over a week ago I would not have been able to have put an exact figure on it or told exactly when each donation was made. The money donated was my money, no one else's. Many of the donations I have been told there were 19 in total were made through intermediaries, friends and associates that I have known for many years. I donated in this way in an effort to maintain anonymity. In fact, remaining anonymous was a condition of my giving, and the relevant party officials knew that.

It may be hard for some people to comprehend but I just wanted to support the party in which I passionately believed and to do so without drawing attention to myself or attract unwanted publicity. I sought no benefit or reward from my donations and received none other than thanks.

My political friends in the party's northern region were unaware of any donations whatsoever that I was making; only a very few officials and party figures in higher echelons of the national party structure were aware. Perhaps as a result I was received warmly at functions and was occasionally contacted to make further donations.

On 25 April of this year at a British Board of Deputies dinner in London at which Gordon Brown was the guest speaker, I was placed next to Jon Mendelsohn which, at the time, I felt was just a little more than coincidence. I then realised he was hoping to become Gordon Brown's fundraiser and he knew I was a strong supporter. He did not solicit funds from me at the dinner, however. I told him that I regularly donated to the party, and I described how it was done through intermediaries for the purposes of anonymity, to which he replied, "That sounds like a good idea."

That was that and that was then. This week I have had many phone calls from well-wishers and supporters within the Labour Party who are still grateful for my commitment to the party and for my attempts to help. Some, on the other hand, are running for cover or briefing against me. It is as if I have not donated to the Labour Party but rather stolen from it.

I reserve my anger for those who give ammunition to our political opponents, and I am determined that neither the truth nor the Labour movement will be the victim of this inquiry.

I hope now that the less scrupulous elements of the media who are camped on my doorstep and press camera lenses against the windows of the homes of my friends, and scouring the details of my public and private life to see if there's some juicy titbit to add to the media mix will give the police the time and space they need to do their job. I am deeply concerned for the welfare of my friends. I regret that they have been unwittingly embroiled in this controversy. If I had known that they would be ever caught in the spotlight of publicity I would have made my donations in another way.

Consideration of the events of the past week is as painful to me as would be a family rift. My support for the Labour Party is not just tribal, not just because I am an ordinary lad from the North-east of England, but because I believe in social and economic justice, and opportunity for all, and I hope to continue to be of value to the party in future.

Further browsing: http://www.partyfundingreview.gov.uk/htms/transfunding.htm