The man at the centre of the Labour donations row said last night he had received “nothing but begging letters” since news of his financial backing to the party was revealed last year. In a call to The Journal, Newcastle property developer David Abrahams said that he simply wanted to get on with his life and support the causes he wanted.
Mr Abrahams insisted the Government’s problems could have been avoided if he had been given a “booklet” setting out the law on political gifts.
He was speaking as Health Secretary Alan Johnson became the latest figure to be dragged into the row, with allegations that his Labour deputy leadership campaign had accepted over £3,000 from a “proxy” donor.
Proxy gifts from Mr Abrahams to the Labour party sparked the donations row at the end of last year, with Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticising £630,000 he gave through intermediaries.
Last night he said: “I have been caught up in what’s now being called ‘donor-gate.’ I had no documentation to go by and what I did I thought it was in the law.
“A lot of people don’t know the rules and regulations of this country, I myself didn’t. There could have been a booklet out, easily understandable terms. Why weren’t we all made aware of this?
“There has been some witch-hunt going on. There is obviously something a bit more sinister going on behind the scenes, people are trying to trip people up on this. Why wasn’t it brought to attention in 2003?
“I never thought I was doing anything wrong but since then I have had nothing but begging letters.
“I make donations to areas that I have been involved with. I have given to the causes I have always worked for and worked on with over the years. I know exactly what I want to support. There has been a lot of unwelcome and unnecessary publicity that I didn’t need. You want to get on with your life.”
Meanwhile, Croydon businessman Ahmed Yar Mohammed yesterday denied deliberately hiding a donation to Mr Johnson’s Labour deputy Leadership campaign.
He said he asked his brother-in-law Waseem Siddiqui to write a cheque on his behalf because he was busy travelling. He claimed he acted in good faith and said the controversy over the donation was a misunderstanding.
Mr Mohammed, 29, said: “As I was travelling at the time, I asked my brother-in-law Waseem Siddiqui to write a cheque for Alan Johnson’s campaign. As family members we share a number of financial arrangements. I did this in good faith and at no point was it my intention to disguise my donation.”
Mr Johnson said he had been “100% honest” over donations. He stressed his team had done “what the law asked us to do” to check the gift. “We registered everything in accordance with the laws to our best knowledge,” Mr Johnson said. “We are absolutely clear now from talking to the Electoral Commission that everything we have done was what was required of us.”