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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 12:15 GMT
Brown faces new donor questions
David Abrahams
Mr Abrahams said he used intermediaries to avoid publicity

Gordon Brown faces fresh questions over the Labour donation row after the man at its heart said he had received a letter from Labour's chief fundraiser.

The row centres on property developer David Abrahams's 663,975 of donations to Labour under other people's names.

Mr Abrahams, who says he did not know he was breaking any rules, said he took the letter he got from Jon Mendelsohn as an invitation to donate more money.

The Tories say Mr Mendelsohn "must go" if he knew the donations' true source.

The letter suggests knowledge of the unlawful donations may go much wider in Labour than implied when general secretary Peter Watt quit on Monday saying he had known about them but had not realised they broke any laws.

'Strong supporter'

Mr Abrahams told the BBC he received a letter from the party's chief fundraiser on Tuesday calling him one of Labour's "strongest supporters".

According to Mr Abrahams, the letter read: "At some point I would like to have the opportunity to talk with you personally about what we are doing and our plans between now and the next general election.

DONORS
Ray Ruddick - 196,850
Janet Kidd - 185,000 since 2003
John McCarthy - 257,125 since 2004
Janet Dunn - 25,000
Source: Electoral Commission

"I know your diary is very busy, but as one of the party's strongest supporters it is only right that you are kept informed with what we are doing and the priorities that we are assigning to our resources."

Asked about the letter, Labour's chief whip Geoff Hoon said he did not know anything about it, but it would be examined in the inquiry into what had happened.

In a statement Mr Mendelsohn later said he had been told of the arrangement by Peter Watt but was "unhappy" with it and was "determined it would not play a part in our future plans".

He said he did not tell Labour's National Executive Committee but tried to fix a personal meeting with Mr Abrahams to tell him the method of funding was "unacceptable" and had no intention of asking him for donations.

Personal fundraiser

But shadow chancellor George Osborne said: "If Jon Mendelsohn knew and was party to something that was unacceptable and unlawful he should follow Peter Watt and leave his post.

"After all, he is Gordon Brown's personal fundraiser and in charge of raising money for Labour's general election campaign."

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown said the money was not lawfully declared

Mr Abrahams has said he did not know how many people within the party knew of his donations.

Under the law, those making donations on behalf of others must give details of who is providing the money.

He told the BBC: "Until the weekend I didn't know it was illegal for a person who hadn't personally donated to have to declare his hand to the Electoral Commission, otherwise I most certainly wouldn't have contributed in this way."

'Completely unacceptable'

On Tuesday it emerged he had used a fourth person's name to give money. When questioned by reporters afterwards Janet Dunn said she had known nothing about it - adding that she was a Conservative supporter.

Gordon Brown, who faces his weekly grilling at prime minister's questions, has said the donations were "completely unacceptable" and would be repaid.

Peter Watt
Mr Watt said he knew about Mr Abrahams' funding arrangement

Mr Brown said it appeared to have been a practice which had been going on "for some years" - but he was first told about it on Saturday evening.

Once the facts were established, Mr Watt's resignation was "a necessary first step" but the party would also return the money and two lords have been appointed to advise the party on changes that would be necessary in relation to donations.

The Electoral Commission is investigating whether the donations breached the Political Parties and Referendums Act 2000 and has confirmed it has been "in touch" with the Crown Prosecution Service.

Who gave what?

During the election campaign to determine who would succeed John Prescott as Labour's deputy leader, money was offered to Hilary Benn and Harriet Harman's campaigns, in Janet Kidd's name.

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Ms Harman accepted it but Mr Benn's team turned it down because he was told it was on behalf of Mr Abrahams. He later accepted it when it was donated in Mr Abrahams' name.

Ms Harman, whose husband is the Labour Party's treasurer, said she had no reason to think the money came from Mr Abrahams and she had accepted Mrs Kidd as a "pre-existing Labour donor".

The Conservatives have challenged her to answer a series of questions, including why the 5,000 donation was given to Ms Harman two weeks after she was elected deputy leader, rather than during the campaign.

WHO GAVE WHAT WHEN

UNDER GENERAL SECRETARY DAVID TRIESMAN
Janet Dunn 31 January 2003 25,000
Janet Kidd 06 May 2003 25,000
Ray Ruddick 18 August 2003 25,000
UNDER GENERAL SECRETARY MATT CARTER
John McCarthy 12 January 2004 15,000
Janet Kidd 01 April 2004 10,000
Janet Kidd 27 October 2004 2,000
John McCarthy 05 February 2005 25,000
John McCarthy 01 June 2005 25,000
UNDER GENERAL SECRETARY PETER WATT
John McCarthy 22 December 2005 52,125
Janet Kidd 23 December 2005 30,000
Ray Ruddick 23 December 2005 17,850
John McCarthy 21 April 2006 50,000
Ray Ruddick 24 May 2006 50,000
John McCarthy 28 June 2007 35,000
Janet Kidd 29 June 2007 38,000
Ray Ruddick 29 June 2007 24,000
Janet Kidd 10 July 2007 80,000
Ray Ruddick 10 July 2007 80,000
John McCarthy 10 July 2007 55,000
  Total 663,975
.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Ray Ruddick on the donation made in his name



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