Labour asks sleaze watchdog to investigate government minister for taking donation from non-existent company

Labour asks sleaze watchdog to investigate government minister for taking donation from non-existent company
wendy morton mp
Wendy Morton MP Getty
  • EXCLUSIVE: Labour has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards asking for an investigation into Wendy Morton MP.

  • Morton, a Foreign Office minister, declared a £4,000 donation received by her local association.

  • The company had been dissolved for nearly three years.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A government minister could face investigation by Parliament's sleaze watchdog, after the opposition Labour Party requested a probe into a £4,000 donation she accepted from a company that was dissolved nearly three years before the donation was made.

The chair of the Labour Party, Anneliese Dodds MP, has written to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, Kathryn Stone, calling for her to "urgently investigate" the donation registered by Wendy Morton MP, a Foreign Office minister in the UK government. The donation was first brought to light following an Insider investigation.

Dodds told Insider: "Labour has asked Parliament's standards watchdog to get to the bottom of why a sitting Conservative MP appears to have pocketed thousands of pounds from a company that only exists on paper. The Conservative Party has also failed to explain publicly why the records show it stashed thousands more from the same company.

"We need to understand where the Tories are getting their cash from - there can't be one rule for them and a different rule for everyone else."

In her letter, Dodds asks Stone to investigate "a potential breach of the Code of Conduct for Members of Parliament relating to donations and other support for activities as Members."

Similar to political-financing laws, the Code of Conduct states that MPs "must not accept any donations, loans, security or other support valued at over £500 from impermissible donors".

In January 2020, Morton registered a £4,000 donation from Unionist Buildings by her local party organisation, according to her entry in the Register of Members' Interests. Records held by Companies House matching the company registration number provided show the company was dissolved in January 2017.

Dodds writes: "It appears that the Member for Aldridge-Brownhills has accepted a donation of thousands of pounds from a company that was officially dissolved almost three years earlier. I am sure you will agree that this case requires urgent investigation to establish if the Member has breached the Code of Conduct.

"Any breach of the Code of Conduct or the General Principles of Conduct for Members of Parliament undermines public trust in our political system. To uphold that trust, it is important that allegations of a breach are investigated swiftly and that any Member found to be responsible is subject to the appropriate sanctions."

In addition to the 2020 donation, Unionist Buildings made a £6,000 donation to Morton's local association in June 2017, five months after its dissolution, which she registered in July 2017.

There is no suggestion of wrongdoing by Unionist Buildings.

These donations are already the subject of inquiries by the Electoral Commission, the body which regulates political finance across the UK. Their inquiries were opened after Dodds wrote to them last week, following Insider's revelation that Electoral Commission records showed nearly £30,000 in donations which appeared to have come from impermissible sources.

On Friday, the Electoral Commission said that a £10,000 donation from Stridewell Estates, previously reported by Insider, had been "incorrectly identified" on their database following an "administrative error" by the Commission. A similar error was made on another donation from a different company. The record has since been altered.

A Commission spokesperson said: "We regret any confusion it has caused, and the impact it has had on transparency."

But questions remain concerning the donations from Unionist Buildings, with the Commission saying: "The Conservative Party has advised us that donations from Unionist Buildings Limited were inaccurately reported to us. We remain in contact with them so that we can publish the correct information and provide transparency to voters."

The BBC reported a Conservative Party spokesperson saying: "We welcome this decision from the Electoral Commission and we will continue to work with them."

Insider has contacted Morton and the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for comment.

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