13 February 2014
Two Labour pressure groups backed by Lord Sainsbury have been fined for accepting donations from him when he was not on the electoral register.
Progress – a group which promotes New Labour values – was fined £6,000.
Movement for Change – a grassroots campaign to get Labour activists more involved in the community set up by David Miliband – was fined £5,500.
It is an offence to keep a political donation from someone who is not on a UK electoral register.
Peter Horne, the Electoral Commission’s director of party and election finance, said: “These organisations failed to check a donor was on the electoral register and have been fined because of it.
“The fines reflect the lengthy amount of time it took both organisations to realise their mistake.
“We do not think this was a deliberate attempt to evade the rules and both organisations have now put in place new procedures intended to prevent this happening again.”
Labour peer Lord Sainsbury was one of the party’s biggest donors during the Tony Blair era, but since Ed Miliband was elected party leader he has switched his funds to campaign groups.
Progress – which has seen off attempts by trade unions to have it barred from Labour Party conferences – was bankrolled by the supermarket magnate to the tune of £390,000 between December 2011 and April 2013.
Movement for Change, which was set up by David Miliband as part of his ill-fated campaign for the Labour leadership but has since been embraced by brother Ed – accepted donations from Lord Sainsbury totalling £344,939 over the same period.
Meanwhile, according to Electoral Commission figures for the fourth quarter of 2013, political parties accepted donations totalling £9,935,682 – just over £2,500,000 more than in the same period of 2012.
The Conservatives topped the list, with £4,805,892 in donations, followed by Labour on £3,162,980 and the Lib Dems on £1,311,824.
The UK Independence Party received £270,955, the Green Party £115,943 and the British National Party £61,576.
Outstanding loans to political parties as at 31 December 2013 stood at £15,125,156.
Figures for 2013 as a whole show that political parties accepted £35,736,657 in reportable donations. This is almost £4.5m more than in 2012.