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Last Updated: Friday, 21 April 2006, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Lib Dem donor faces fraud charges
Michael Brown
The businessman is being extradited back to the UK. Photo: The Times
The Liberal Democrats have moved to distance themselves from their biggest donor following his arrest on fraud charges in Spain.

Scottish businessman Michael Brown is being extradited to the UK to face a number of charges including fraud, forgery and obtaining by deception.

Mr Brown donated more than 2m to the Lib Dems ahead of the last election.

But a party spokesman stressed there was "no connection" between the charges and Mr Brown's donations.

Scotland Yard said the arrest was not connected with the ongoing cash-for-honours inquiry, or any Metropolitan Police investigation.

Mr Brown, a 40-year-old tax exile, is one of Scotland's wealthiest men, with an estimated fortune of about 10m.

He was the subject of an Electoral Commission investigation last year after it emerged he was not registered vote in the UK - despite bankrolling the Lib Dems' election campaign.

Kennedy 'muppets'

But the watchdog later found it was "permissible" for the party to have accepted the cash from the financier's Swiss-based company 5th Avenue.

He later said he gave the money because he believed in then leader Charles Kennedy's ability as a future prime minister "but not the muppets who purport to serve him".

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: "We are not aware that this has any connection whatsoever with the Liberal Democrats.

"Any further action is a matter for the police and the relevant authorities."

A spokesman for the Serious and Organised Crime agency later said Mr Brown was arrested under a European arrest warrant issued by the UK.

"We can confirm that a European arrest warrant was issued for Michael Brown and he has been arrested by Spanish authorities," he said.

Mr Brown is accused of a number of offences relating to fraud, forgery, and obtaining by deception.

Mr Brown is expected to be flown to the UK to face the charges in about 10 days time.

He made a brief appearance behind closed doors before an investigating judge at the National Criminal Court on Friday, after being flown to Madrid from Majorca.

He told the judge that he was prepared to be taken back to Britain and would not fight extradition. He was ordered to the top security prison at Valdemora, just south of Madrid.




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