Statement on Fifth Avenue 27.10.06
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The Electoral Commission has previously made clear its view that it was reasonable for the Liberal Democrats - based on the information available to them at the time - to regard the donations they received from 5th Avenue Partners Ltd in 2005, totaling just over £2.4m, as permissible.
It remains the Commissions view that the Liberal Democrats acted in good faith at that time, and the Commission is not re-opening the question of whether the party or its officers failed to carry out sufficient checks into the permissibility of the donations.
Nevertheless, we have always said that if any additional information that has a bearing on the permissibility of the donations comes to light, for example as a result of the ongoing police investigation or legal proceedings relating to the affairs of 5th Avenue, we would consider the matter further.
It is not clear to the Commission that 5th Avenue Partners Ltd was carrying on business in the UK at the time the donations were made. If not, then the donations were impermissible. Under Section 58 of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000, the Commission has the power to apply to a court for an order that the party must forfeit to the Consolidated Fund an amount equal to the value of any impermissible donation. We are considering the available evidence and expect to reach a decision on whether to apply for such an order in the next few weeks.