Cameron needs to distance himself – and politics – from the money of a convicted thief

August 27, 2012 4:17 pm

How hard is Cameron thinking about whether to pay back the £440,000 donations to the Tories, made between 1985-1990, by Asil Nadir, now convicted of stealing from his own businesses during virtually the same period?

Half the donations came from Polly Peck International, which Nadir was milking of cash from the mid 80s.The other half came from Unipac Packaging, the Nadir group’s North Cypriot “banker”. This is the dodgy business where the SFO found documents, apparently forged, to support Nadir’s claim that his mother had paid billions of Turkish lire in cash to compensate for what he took out. Both Unipac and PPI – Nadir’s main company – were run by him autocratically and payments were made on his signature alone.

Cameron could add to any concerns he has about victims, the UK Cypriot businessman I acted for at the Old Bailey around 1993-4 who stood surety for Nadir, offering a sizeable chunk of the required £3.5M bail, to guarantee his attendance at trial. When Nadir disappeared in a private plane from Compton Abbas airfield, in May 1993, the burden fell on the surety to show why his cash should not be forfeit.

Judges have said: “The real pull of (such) bail is to cause the defendant to attend trial rather than subject his friends to pain and discomfort”

Not in this case.

In fact, the pilot who flew Nadir, proved on appeal from his later conviction for perverting justice, that by an error, Nadir was on unconditional bail from 1992. Whilst hoping, though doubting, that the surety got his bail money back and hadn’t lost his business in the meantime, many of Nadir’s lenders and investors lost everything. They have recovered about 2.9 pence in the £.

Cameron is hanging onto the relatively small (in Tory terms) sum of just less than half a million, whilst Nadir was convicted of stealing £30M, but victims may well to come forward over the next few weeks,  to tell journalists what a difference to their straitened circumstances even that level of recompense would make.

Cameron has had plenty of elders’ advice. Added to John Major’s and then Party Chair Norman Fowler’s assurance in 1993 that if the money were stolen it would paid back, are this week’s assertion by former Tory Treasurer, Lord McAlpine that it “shames the Conservative Party if they hang onto it”. In addition, Mrs Thatcher’s former advisers Bernard Ingham and Charles Powell both say that she would have wanted rid of this stolen cash. In the background is an old letter from administrators, Touche Ross, apparently telling the Tories exactly how they calculate that at least £365,000 of the money was dishonest.

An argument that dishonest money was received in good faith only convincingly counters the duty to pay back if the recipient did something in return- earned the money. A gratuitous donation should surely go back to the victims now that it is clear that any money paid by Nadir after 1985 will have come from his crimes.

Nor can the generation gap save Cameron from his responsibilities since he personally worked for Central Office from 1987. Who knows who paid his wages.

And who knows what favours Nadir thought he might call in, returning as he did just after the 2010 election brought his erstwhile beneficiaries to power. Pie in the sky as that may have been, Cameron should understand that he needs to distance himself – and politics – from the money of a convicted thief and that, albeit in quite a different way than Nadir may have imagined, for Cameron this is payback time.

Vera Baird QC is the Labour Candidate for Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner and former Solicitor General

  • http://twitter.com/shibleylondon Shibs

    I’m not a lawyer, but certainly in my current law studies on the Legal Practice Course, in professional conduct and regulation, we are taught in detail about the money laundering regulations and the proceeds of crime act legislation, and how to apply them. 

    Certainly lawyers in  practice the City with big clients need to obey this law, especially to comply with the Code of Conduct of the Solicitors Regulation Authority. 

    One must expect that all political parties are expected to observe these laws too, and I have no idea about their retrospective effect. 

    Excellent article, by the way, and my best wishes for @LabourList as per usual.

  • http://twitter.com/shibleylondon Shibs

    Excellent article. On my legal practice course, for professional conduct and regulation, we are taught in detail about the importance of an understanding of the money laundering regulations and the proceeds of crime legislation. 

    Certainly, the Solicitors Regulation Authority expect all student lawyers at my stage to have a thorough understanding of how to apply these laws. Many of us indeed go on to work in the City, where it is not uncommon for certain new clients to have substantial apparent wealth.

    I would expect also that all political parties should have processes and procedures concerning this, but I have no idea what protocols they have for giving money back with retrospective effect.

  • Andwhynot

    Is Cameron’s difficulty identifying the donations from convicted fraudsters from the unconvicted ones. His Party seems to want reward corruption – didn’t Osborne champion banker’s bonuses and now we discover LIBOR crimes that may never see justice but put Nadir’s crimes in the shade.

    Morally (there’s another term that Cameron is unlikely to recognise) the Tories should place the money received from Nadir at the disposal of the Courts so that creditors can have first claim, although I fear that this will result in HMRC having preferred status.

  • Robert_Crosby

    Financial impropriety is something I will never excuse.  Rightly or wrongly, the public have increasingly lumped dodgy donations in with other forms of misconduct and sleaze.  The best way of exposing the Tories in voters’ eyes is to ensure that WE are diligent and that WE get OUR house in order.  Part of that means consigning greedy expenses claimants to obscurity and not picking them still to fight elections.

  • Robert_Crosby

    Financial impropriety is something I will never excuse.  Rightly or wrongly, the public have increasingly lumped dodgy donations in with other forms of misconduct and sleaze.  The best way of exposing the Tories in voters’ eyes is to ensure that WE are diligent and that WE get OUR house in order.  Part of that means consigning greedy expenses claimants to obscurity and not picking them still to fight elections.

  • MarcusTankus

    I wonder if he got a passport out of it ..or policy changed …..?

  • Pingback: Cameron needs to distance himself – and politics – from the money of a convicted thief « VeraBaird.com

Latest

  • News Scotland have voted No to independence, say LabourList readers

    Scotland have voted No to independence, say LabourList readers

    In a few hours time, we will find out that Scotland has voted against independence – according to LabourList readers, anyway. 77% of those who took our survey this week said they thought that the outcome of today’s referendum would be a No vote. Despite polls have closed in over the past fortnight, our readers are confident that Scots will have chosen to preserve the Union. 23% think that the result will be in favour of Yes. Only two polls in […]

    Read more →
  • News Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

    Lift cap on borrowing so councils can build – say Labour PPCs, councillors and AMs

    A group of London-based Prospective Parliamentary Candidates, councillors and London Assembly Members have written an open letter (published in the Guardian), calling on party leadership to go further in their policy commitments when it comes to building houses. Although the letter praises Ed’s pledge that the next Labour government “will build 200,000 homes a year by 2020″, the cohort which include urge leadership to commit to lifting what they deem the “arbitrary cap [placed on councils] on borrowing to build”. […]

    Read more →
  • News Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Are Labour going to make the NHS the focal point of the 2015 campaign?

    Earlier this week, a poll found that Labour hold an 18-point lead over the Tories as the most trusted party on the NHS – the only topic voters consider a “major issue” that sees a Labour lead. The NHS being a crucial issue of the Scottish referendum, with both sides accusing the other of lying. Many of today’s votes rest on whether they trust Yes Scotland or Better Together’s claims about the health service. Now reports say that Labour are considering […]

    Read more →
  • Comment We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    We stand up for human value – we proudly defend the Human Rights Act

    If you’re part of the Labour Party, or hold any similar values, you will certainly share the absolute belief in respect and dignity for everyone. I don’t think anyone in our movement, with our principles, would disagree. And so, with those common values, we are entirely right to stand up, loud and proud, for the Human Rights Act. The publication this week of Human Rights: Reflections on the 1998 Act by Jonathan Cooper in Stephen Hockman’s Law Reform 2015 (with […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Scotland Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    Friendship and solidarity must prevail, as the fog clears

    The air hangs thick this morning with the referendum. Last night a deep fog rolled down across Edinburgh, but in reality it is the campaign which has blotted the vision and stopped even the keenest of observers from seeing what lies just a few footsteps ahead. The final days has provided one crucial clarification though – the No campaign is capable of great passion and powerful rhetoric. Mocked, endlessly criticised, a reputation dragged through the muck. Despite it all – […]

    Read more →