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Last Updated: Wednesday, 28 November 2007, 10:21 GMT
The questions Labour faces
By Nick Assinder
Political correspondent, BBC News website

Another day in Labour's second-hand donations saga - and another batch of questions that need answering by Labour's high command.

Gordon Brown
Mr Brown faces a fresh series of questions over funding

It is now clear that the initial implication no one in the Labour Party, other than its general secretary Peter Watt, knew David Abrahams was donating money through third parties was not accurate.

The man appointed by Mr Brown to head the party's fundraising, Jon Mendelsohn, knew and even wrote to Mr Abrahams about his relationship with the party the day it emerged a Sunday newspaper was about to reveal details of the practice.

At the moment it is only Mr Mendelsohn who is facing calls for his resignation if he cannot adequately explain his actions.

But many in Westminster believe deputy Labour leader Harriet Harman also has serious questions to answer after she accepted a proxy donation from Mr Abrahams.

Ironically, it was her husband and party treasurer Jack Dromey, who kicked off the cash-for-honours affair when he revealed he had been kept in the dark about other secret donations.

Funding laws

The two questions the Tory party are demanding answers to are:

Why did Mr Mendelsohn write to Mr Abrahams on the day before the Mail on Sunday broke the story and, if it was because he knew the donations were unlawful, why did he not report to Mr Brown but instead wanted a meeting with Mr Abrahams?

Peter Watt
Mr Watt was not the only official to know of donations
And did Ms Harman directly solicit funds for her deputy leadership campaign from Mr Abrahams, through one of his proxies?

But there are other, wider questions that still remain unanswered.

How was it that Mr Watt, who resigned over the affair, did not know the proxy donations broke Labour's own funding laws?

Why did Mr Watt's resignation statement suggest he was the only party official to know about the way Mr Abrahams was donating money when it now appears Mr Mendelsohn knew and Baroness Jay warned minister Hilary Benn that a donation to his deputy leadership campaign was not from the person giving the money but from Mr Abrahams?

Did these individuals know the arrangement was illegal and, if so, why did they not report it to Mr Brown?

More revelations

Why did at least one of the proxy donors - Tory supporting lollipop lady Janet Dunn - have no idea her name had been used to make a donation on Mr Abrahams behalf?

Has anyone else been donating to Labour in this way and are others in the Labour Party, or members of the previous Blair regime, aware of such donations?

These are just some of the key questions the current inquiry set up by Mr Brown will undoubtedly be looking at.

It may even be that the police will now probe just these areas as well.

And it is far from certain that there will be no more revelations raising even more questions over the coming days.

Equally, therefore, it is impossible to yet be sure just how damaging this affair might prove to the government and Gordon Brown.

Brown faces new donor questions
28 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
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27 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
Labour boss quits over donations
26 Nov 07 |  UK Politics
Concern over secret Labour donor
25 Nov 07 |  UK Politics

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