The Conservative party has had a £28,000 donation forfeit after the Electoral Commission found the gift impermissible.
According to an investigation by The Bureau who reported the concerns to the Electoral Commission, the donation was made as payment for an auction prize.
An investigation by the Bureau found that the successful bidder for a portrait of the former prime minister Baroness Thatcher was listed in the Electoral Commission database as a company – Henley Concierge Ltd, a business registered at a cottage on the £120m country estate of Andrei Borodin, a former president of the Bank of Moscow.
Auction bids at party fundraisers are classed as donations, and therefore must follow rules laid out by the Electoral Commission. The rules state that a political party accepting donations must check that the person behind the gift is a permissible donor.
Henley Concierge Ltd is registered on Linked In as being run by Lynn Hart, a former Personal Assistant to the head of luxury champagne company Laurent Perrier.
According to Ms Hart’s Linked In profile, Henley Concierge is a Lifestyle Management Company, ‘helping busy people find more time by giving them support, as well as sourcing/researching services and suppliers’. The website features a picture of Ms Hart filling a fridge with bottles of champagne.
One reason for the lack of business activity by the company could be the founding of a new venture. ‘Hart to Heart’ is a dating company which organises social events for single men and women between the ages of 40 and 60. Advertised as a ‘drinks party for sophisticated singles’ in the Henley area, the website boasts it plans to expand into other towns in the UK.
It is unknown if any members of the Conservative Party attended the romantic evenings.
Ms Hart was unavailable for comment and did not respond to messages from Breitbart London.
The Electoral Commission also ruled that UKIP leader Nigel Farage should be fined £200 for an investigation relating to the reporting of donations – a sum which Mr Farage has already paid.
A statement from the Commission said it was “satisfied that there had been no intent to hide the donations” and “Although the donations had not been reported to the Commission, they had been properly reported to the European Parliament by Mr Farage.”
The donation in question was the use of an office in East Sussex which Mr Farage used as his base in the South East constituency he represented. It was donated by UKIP supporter Mr John Longhurst and the value ranged from between £3,500 and £3,800 over the years since Mr Farage has used the premises.
The accusations were made by Jasna Badzac, a former employee of Mr Farage’s colleague, who was sentenced to a twelve month prison sentence suspended for two years for fraud after going on a £3000 spending spree in Gucci and Harrods with her employer’s money.
The matter of the use of the office was published in a series of articles by The Times newspaper during the European Election campaign which quoted Ms Badzac as a source.
MEPs fill in annual ‘financial declarations’ which are available to view on the parliament’s website.