View Full Version : MPs To Shine Light On Secretive Man Who Brings Blair Millions

03-23-2006, 09:12 AM
MPs to shine light on secretive man who brings Blair millions


By Andrew Pierce

LORD LEVY, Tony Blair’s fundraiser, is to be forced out of the shadows next month for the first time when he will be questioned by MPs about how he coaxes millions of pounds from supporters.

The televised grilling comes as The Times has learnt that the Prime Minister has asked Lord Levy to find more money for cash-strapped Labour.

Starting on Tuesday, the Commons Public Administration Committee inquiry will seek the truth behind claims being investigated by Scotland Yard that the governing party sold peerages in return for loans before the last election.

Lord Levy, who never gives interviews, is due to give evidence next month.

Senior figures within Downing Street have begun a charm offensive over the telephone with the dozen donors whose £14 million of loans were exposed this week. One donor said that it was to try to persuade them not to demand repayment of their loans.

The all-party committee of MPs will look into the connection between political donations and funds for the Prime Minister’s city academy projects and the awarding of knighthoods and peerages.

A senior Labour source confirmed that Lord Levy would continue his unofficial role as a leading fundraiser to try to plug the looming gap in the party’s finances. “He will carry on. We have to raise money year in year out because we spend money year in year out. Lord Levy is a good fundraiser and without his support we could not have fought such a good election campaign. He has been given the message that the Prime Minister wants him to carry on,” the source said.

Sir Jeremy Beecham, the chairman of the party’s National Executive Committee, reiterated that there was no threat to Lord Levy, who was ennobled by Mr Blair in 1997.

Referring to a meeting on Tuesday, when the loans were discussed, he says in a letter in today’s Times: “No one criticised Lord Levy. There was no call to end his fundraising activities, or to require him to report to the NEC. What was unanimously agreed was that the NEC and its officers would be more closely involved in all aspects of the party’s finances.”

Several of the 12 lenders have agreed to give evidence in person or in writing to the Commons committee about how they were persuaded to make the loans.

The first will be Sir David Garrard, 67, a property developer who made the biggest loan, of £2.3 million. Sir David, the former chairman of the Minerva property company, also made a £200,000 donation to Labour and a £2.5 million gift to the Prime Minister’s city academy project.

He withdrew his name from the Prime Minister’s list of working peers after his nomination was blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission. Chai Patel, 51, the founder of the Priory group of clinics, will also appear before the committee next week.

Jonathan Marland, the Tory party treasurer, who is resisting pressure from Labour to reveal the identity of the people behind £20 million of secret loans to the Conservatives, will also be required to give evidence.

In a further sign of Labour’s dire financial straits, the party is poised to sell the lease on its Old Queen Street headquarters in Westminister, which it bought four years ago with a £5.5 million mortgage. The sale of the lease on the five-storey building would raise millions, and be used to pay off the first wave of lenders.

Sir Christopher Evans £1m
Richard Caring £2m
Derek Tullett £400,000
Gordon Crawford £500,000
Barry Townsley £1m
Sir David Garrard £2.3m
Chai Patel £1.5m
Nigel Morris £1m
Lord Sainsbury of Turville £2m
Sir Gulam Noon £250,000
Andrew Rosenfeld £1m
Rod Aldridge £1m