Sutton Liberal Democrats have denounced a Sutton UKIP member for actions likely to bring politics into disrepute by making a series of unfounded claims about donations to the Lib Dems.
Over a period of time, the chairman of Sutton UKIP has raised questions in council and with the chief executive about legitimate donations made to the Liberal Democrats and to its general election candidates. The questions concerned donations which had all been reported on the Electoral Commission website.
Professor Adrian Bonner, Sutton Lib Dem Chairman, said: “All the donations which had been challenged were made in response to fundraising appeals, generally in the period leading up to an election. Appeals had been made in a variety of ways by MP Tom Brake and former MP Paul Burstow.
“It is normal and natural for MPs to have contacts with leading local businesses, and for those owners to make donations when they wish to offer support, as they do to other parties. That is the extent of the Sutton Liberal Democrats’ links or connections with these companies.”
Professor Bonner made it clear that the party’s councillors did not undertake such fundraising, and details of any donations received were not made known to councillors or to party members. The very fact that a donation has been received from a particular individual or business would be known only by the MP if they had had contact with the donor, and by one or two party officers who processed the donation.
He said: “A significant proportion of Sutton Liberal Democrat funds come from small donations given by a wide spread of private individuals and local businesses who are in sympathy with Liberal Democrat principles and are satisfied with the performance of the local MPs and party.
“This is in contrast with other major parties who seem to rely heavily on a relatively small number of very large donations given at a national level, where the donors might expect to exercise some influence on party policy - or to obtain a peerage,” Professor Bonner said.
“To imply anything else about donations to our local party is extremely damaging and does nothing more than raise questions with the public about the honesty of decent, hard-working politicians,” he concluded.