Electoral Commission probes Smith Institute 'donation'

The Electoral Commission has confirmed that it is looking into allegations that the Smith Institute made a "non-cash donation" to Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Think tanks and other charities are not among the permissible donors to politicians, listed on the Electoral Commission's website. They are also prohibited by charity law from making political donations.

Last week the institute's chair and director both resigned, three weeks after a Charity Commission inquiry report criticised the think tank's trustees for not doing enough to protect the charity from claims that it was party political (Third Sector Online, August 8). However, Wilf Stevenson, the outgoing director, denied the departures were related to the commission's report.

Chris Grayling, a Conservative MP and shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said the resignations suggested something was seriously amiss at the Smith Institute, and urged the Electoral Commission to fairly investigate the links between the institute and the Prime Minister.

A spokesman for the Electoral Commission said the political watchdog was looking into the allegations of a non-cash donation but was unable to give a timescale for the inquiry.

A spokeswoman for the Charity Commission declined to comment. She said: "We have published our inquiry report into the Smith Institute and will wait for the results of the Electoral Commission's enquiries before making any further comment."


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