Thursday, 29 July 2010

UKIP And The Electoral Commission

I'm not sure how Iain Dale has got a UKIP press release before me (a member) but UKIP has won its court case over party donations. The press release is below:
UKIP forum e-newsletter: UKIP wins Supreme Court case
The Supreme Court today ruled in favour of UKIP over a case of party donations.

Between December 2004 and February 2006, Alan Bown, a retired businessman had donated a total of £349,216 to the party. During that time, due to an oversight Mr Bown was not on the UK electoral register which, under the law suggested that he was not a British resident. This was obviously not the case.

UKIP had argued that the forfeit should amount to £14,481 donated after the party became aware of the oversight, as did the initial Court ruling. The Electoral Commission believed that the whole sum should be forfeit.

In a 4-3 judgement the Supreme Court found that the spirit of the law counted more than the letter.

Speaking after the judgement Alan Bown said, "I am pleased and relieved that all this is over. We will now launch a massive UKIP membership drive, through a concerted leafleting campaign".

He went on,

"I feel no animosity towards the Electoral Commission, we understand they have a job to do. I always had confidence that British Justice would play fair. Now I have evidence that this is the case"
Michael Crick has a great post here at the injustices of this case:

Spot the difference(s)

Case A: Alan Bown gave a political party £363,697

1) It was his money
2) He had a business trading in this country, making him eligible to donate money
3) He was not on the electoral register when he donated although he was the year before, and also the year afterwards.

Case B: Michael Brown gave a political party £2.4m
1) It was not his money, he had defrauded it
2) His business was not trading in the UK, so therefore he was ineligible to donate money
3) He was not on the electoral register; neither was he the year afterwards, nor the year before.

Do you see the difference(s)?
Well the main difference is that the Electoral Commission has doggedly pursued the Alan Bown donation, and today won an appeal forcing the party to give up the money, despite a judge previously ruling that the political party that received it had acted in good faith.

In the Michael Brown case the Electoral Commission has always maintained the political party acted in good faith and need not repay money. Although following the criminal proceedings against Mr Brown they have re-opened an investigation, it has not had yet had any result and they have not managed to say when, if ever, it will.

Oh yes there is one other difference:

This year the Political Parties and Elections Act went through Parliament, and among other things it restructured the Electoral Commission and gave it new funding and powers.

The political party in Case A, UKIP, has no MPs and only three representatives in the House of Lords (where the government has no majority and is particularly vulnerable to amendments).

The political party in Case B, the Liberal Democrats, has 63 MPs and 71 members of the House of Lords (where the Government has no majority and is particularly vulnerable to amendments).

At least those are the difference that I can see. Perhaps you can you suggest others?

I like to think that UKIP posses such a threat to the establishment that 'anomalies' like this are bound to happen.

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