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Conservative and Unionist Party forfeits donations

Published: 27 Jun 2011

The Conservative and Unionist Party has forfeited £20,000 of impermissible donations, the Electoral Commission, the independent elections and party finance watchdog, announced today.

The Party accepted £58,164.98 in donations from individuals who were not “permissible donors” (because they were not on the electoral register - see Notes to Editors) at the time when they made the donations.

The donations in question were:

  • Cash donation of £50,000 from George Simon in June 2007
  • Cash donation of £275 from Conor Burke in May 2009
  • Two donations (£7,089.98 non-cash and £300 cash) from Zacharias Goldsmith in December 2007
  • Cash donation of £500 from Sheherazade Goldsmith in December 2007 

In reaching the decision to accept forfeiture of less than the full value of the donations, the Commission took into account a Supreme Court judgement issued in July 2010 that set out how the rules on forfeiture apply to donations from impermissible sources. The court ruled that where a donor was not permissible, but was entitled to be on an electoral register at the time they made their donation, forfeiture of the full value of the donation(s) may not be appropriate, depending on the circumstances of the case.  

In this case, the donors were all entitled to be on the electoral register when they made their donations (and had been on the electoral register in the past).

In agreeing the amount to be forfeited, the Commission considered the factors set out in the Supreme Court ruling and applied these in a manner consistent with its existing Enforcement Policy.

The party has voluntarily forfeited the agreed amount, and therefore the Commission will not be taking legal action.

Electoral Commission Director of Party and Election Finance, Lisa Klein, said: 
“Parties have a responsibility to ensure that donations they receive are from permissible sources and it’s important they make the necessary checks before accepting donations. Although the circumstances here justified a partial forfeiture, we will always consider in each instance whether to seek full forfeiture of any impermissible donations.”

Our guidance on donations and loans can be found at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/guidance/resources-for-those-we-regulate/parties/donations-and-loans

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For further information please contact:
Press team on 020 7271 0704
Out of Hours 07789 920414
Email press@electoralcommission.org.uk

Notes to Editors

  1. The Electoral Commission is an independent body set up by the UK Parliament. Our aim is integrity and public confidence in the UK’s democratic process. We regulate party and election finance and set standards for well-run elections and are responsible for the conduct and regulations of referendums held under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (2000)
  2. The Political Parties Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA) 2000 established the Electoral Commission as an independent body to regulate political party financing and provided the legal framework under which the Commission operates.
  3. Under Section 54(1) of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 (PPERA), registered political parties must not accept a donation from an impermissible donor or an unidentifiable source. Parties have 30 days to check that a donor is permissible and then either accept the donation, or return it if it is from an impermissible donor.
  4. These are the first impermissible donations to be dealt with in light of the decision of the Supreme Court in R (on the application of the Electoral Commission) (Respondent) v City of Westminster Magistrates Court (Respondent) and The United Kingdom Independence Party (Appellant)
  5. The Commission’s Enforcement Policy sets out how it will use the sanctions available to it where the law has been broken. The policy is available on the enforcement area of the Commission’s website at www.electoralcommission.org.uk/party-finance/enforcement

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