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Row over NRI donations to Brown

Prominent NRI like Swraj Paul is among 11 donors that contributed £112,770 to Brown's leadership campaign.

india Updated: May 31, 2007 18:04 IST

Prominent India-origin entrepreneurs Lord Sushantha Bhattacharya and Lord Swraj Paul are among 11 donors to Chancellor Gordon Brown's leadership campaign that received a total of 112,770 pounds in May, official figures say.

According to details provided by the Electoral Commission Wednesday, Lord Bhattacharyya of the Warwick Manufacturing Group (WMG) donated 25,000 pounds on May 1, while Lord Paul's Caparo Industries also donated a similar amount on May 21.

The revelations prompted allegations of cronyism by the Conservative party who alleged that wealthy businessmen such as Lord Paul and Lord Bhattacharyya had been awarded top government posts by the chancellor.

Brown's election as the next Labour leader has been confirmed as he is the only candidate left in the fray, but he has been travelling across Britain as part of the leadership campaign to put forth his vision of 'Britain under Brown' to supporters and the general public.

As part of his campaign, Brown had visited Lord Bhattacharyya's WMG at Warwick University on May 21 and had endorsed the organisation by saying: "WMG's work is based on very strong collaboration with industry and provides a prime example of how the knowledge created in our universities can be transferred to make a difference in the real world. I am delighted that this pioneering facility is being built here."

Conservative Cabinet member Chris Grayling said: "Gordon Brown claims he wants a new type of politics. But the funding of his campaign shows that he is incapable of breaking with the culture of cronyism that has dogged the government for years.

"The reality is that many of these donors have been appointed to government posts by Gordon Brown and are now paying the Chancellor back. It's quite clear that Gordon Brown intends to carry on leading a 'You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' government."

According to the Conservative party, Brown personally paid a visit to Lord Bhattacharyya's industrial support programme, WMG, nine days ago as part of his leadership campaign and gave the scheme his personal endorsement.

The party said that Lord Paul donated 25,000 pounds through Caparo Industries Plc - the UK arm of his company based in the British Virgin Islands. It alleged that Lord Paul had been accused of having non-domiciled status for tax purposes.

"Other donors such as Paul Myners, Lord Leitch and John Miskelly were each appointed by Brown to senior positions in 'independent' reviews. They have given £9,700, £5,000 and £2,000 to the Chancellor's campaign respectively," the Conservative party said.

Brown had appointed London businessman Myners to carry out two independent reviews - on institutional investment in 2000; and the governance of life mutuals in 2004 - as well as making him chair of the Low Pay Commission.

The chancellor appointed Sandy Leitch, former boss of insurers Zurich, to conduct an independent review of skills in 2004, and asked Miskelly, director of recruitment company Blueprint Group Ltd, to head a "high-level panel" on public services reform.

Two trade unions, Community and the Co-operative, are also funding his campaign.However, sources close to Brown's campaign told the media: "We are pleased to have such widespread support for Gordon's campaign from donors who have distinguished themselves in various fields of business, including some who have also done excellent work for the country in encouraging the development of schools and investment.

"It's sadly typical of today's Tories to impugn the integrity of such individuals simply because they happen not to be Tories."