Tories MUST repay their Asil Nadir / Polly Peck donations
This is why people are turned off politics: it is why politicians are distrusted, political parties are reviled, and democracy undermined. Duplicity, hypocrisy and cynical manipulation are what ordinary people hate about politics and politicians.
Asil Nadir used to be the boss of Polly Peck, a FTSE 100 listed company which collapsed in 1991 with £1.3bn (yes, billion) of debt because of accounts fraud and financial irregularities.
Mr Nadir was charged with fraud, but in 1993 jumped bail to Cyprus where he’s been tanning himself for the past 20 years. Bizarrely, despite being an EU member since 2004, the island has no extradition mechanism with the UK. Mr Nadir has now voluntarily returned to face the music, and, in the third movement of this sparkling concerto, been found guilty of fraud and faces 17 years in prison, where his tan will surely fade.
What has this to do with the Conservative Party?
Well, it transpires that Mr Nadir made several donations to them between 1985-1990. Indeed, he was one of the party's biggest donors during the Thatcher era, and a regular visitor to Downing Street. When it became clear that those Tory zenith years had been subsidised by a Nadir (sorry), John Major gave an unequivocal pledge to return the money if it were ever established that it had been ‘dishonestly obtained and dishonestly donated’. Sir Norman Fowler told the House of Commons in June 1993: "Let me make this clear: we will return the money if it was stolen."
Fast forward to 2010, we can read the same assurance given to The Guardian by ‘Tory party (sic) officials’. The pledge is manifest for all to read: ‘The Tories are ready to repay the £440,000 Asil Nadir donated to the party should the former Polly Peck boss be found guilty of fraud.’
Well, he has been. And it has been established that £440,000 was siphoned off without the knowledge of the Polly Peck board of directors or its shareholders. That is theft, is it not?
But now the Conservative Party are saying that the money did not come from Asil Nadir, but from Polly Peck. In The Independent, they are quoted as saying that ‘they will not hand over the money because it was accepted in "good faith" from what was then considered a "leading British company"’. They claim to have ‘no record of having received donations from Asil Nadir. Donations were received from Polly Peck companies more than 22 years ago’.
This is cynical and duplicitous: Asil Nadir was Polly Peck; donations made from company funds were made by him. Donations to CCHQ may have been recorded under the name ‘Polly Peck’, but it was invariably Asil Nadir who got to guzzle the wine and scoff the canapés at No10. The Conservative Party must repay £440,000 to the Administrators (Touche Ross) to disseminate to the Polly Peck shareholders: it is the honest, right and moral thing to do, for it belongs to them.
But it appears that the assurances of Conservative Party leaders from John Major to David Cameron, and the pledges of Conservative Party chairmen from Norman Fowler to Baroness Warsi and Lord Feldman, are utterly worthless. And so the Conservative brand is once again dragged through the mud of sleaze and corruption; re-contaminated in a swill which no number of huskies or wind-farms and no amount of hoodie-hugging will ever sanitate.
And they wonder why politics is so debased and politicians so loathed.