Harman's campaign manager admits soliciting funds

Andrew Grice
Friday 30 November 2007 01:00

Harriet Harman, the Labour chairman, faced fresh allegations over Labour's secret donations as she vowed she would not be driven out of the Cabinet by the controversy.

Her campaign manager in this summer's election for the Labour deputy leadership admitted that the team solicited donations from thousands of people. He did not deny that these included Janet Kidd, the secretary from whom the Harman team accepted 5,000. The money came from her employer David Abrahams, the property developer who made secret donations of 600,000 to Labour through intermediaries including Ms Kidd.

Labour MP Michael Foster told Channel 4 News: "We sent out lots of letters asking for donations thousands of them."

Ms Harman is not sure whether her campaign asked Ms Kidd for money or whether Ms Kidd offered the 5,000 without being approached. She said on Monday: "There was a number of contacts given to my contact team. I don't know whether she contacted us. I know somebody from my campaign team spoke to her, but I don't know whether she contacted us."

Ms Harman's friends insist she did not do anything wrong because the donation was registered. They say the rules on party funding would have been broken only if someone was aware that a donation had been given by someone else. The 5,000 has now been repaid.

During her weekly session of Commons questions as Leader of the House, Ms Harman said she accepted her donation "in good faith" as Ms Kidd was registered as a donor to the party in the past. "We acted at all times within both the letter and the spirit of the law," she said. During fierce exchanges with Theresa May, her Tory shadow, Ms Harman told her: "You can huff and puff but you will not blow this Leader of the House down."

Ms May demanded a full statement by Ms Harman on her role in the affair and a Commons debate on party funding. "You, the Prime Minister and the Labour Party treasurer [Ms Harman's husband Jack Dromey] are like the three wise monkeys," she mocked. "You see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil."

Labour's problems deep-ened when the party's transport spokesman in the Scottish Parliament stood down. MSP Charlie Gordon said he had unwittingly misinformed the campaign team of Wendy Alexander, who became Scottish Labour leader in September, about the source of a 950 donation to her leadership campaign.

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