ALL members of the Liberal Democrats could have to pay back their biggest donation after a funding watchdog said that it was considering taking the money away within weeks, according to The Times. The report said that the Electoral Commission made the unprecedented move after receiving fresh evidence over the invalidity of the £2.4 million gift from disgraced Majorcan-based financer Michael Brown. Brown made the donation shortly before the last general election, but he was arrested at his home in Esporlas earlier this year and extradited to Britain, where he received a two-year jail sentence for perjury and making a false passport application. The Electoral Commission made its decision after the High Court ruled two weeks ago that Brown's company, 5th Avenue Partners, which donated the money, was fraudulent and had never traded. According to election law, political parties can accept corporate donations only from companies that are carrying on business.
It is the first time that the Commission has reviewed any party's donation in the light of evidence from the High Court. The Lib Dems have admitted that they have not made any proviso for paying back the money and if forced to do so, each party member would share the debt. Earlier this month, two senior party members, Dick Taverne, who sits in the House of Lords, and Baroness Miller, called on the party leadership to return the money, saying it was not a desirable source of funding.