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In the papers

Nick Robinson | 10:58 UK time, Thursday, 29 November 2007

An intriguing headline and photo combo on today's Telegraph front page. "Hunt for the 'real donor'" sits on top of a photo of David Abrahams and the former Israeli Ambassador Zvi Heifetz, who was cleared of money laundering.

They make no allegations. If they ever get enough evidence to do so, the story would be huge. If not, I trust they have good lawyers.

Update, 1:22 PM: It didn't take long for Zvi Heifetz to react. In an interview with the BBC he has just strongly denied any link to donations to the Labour Party. He said that his only connection with David Abrahams was to shake his hand at an event marking Israeli Independence Day.

Those close to Mr Heifetz have expressed anger at the notion that might be any stronger link, saying it was reminiscent of other cases in history where Jews have been accused of involvement in a conspiracy.

Comments

  • 1.
  • At 11:50 AM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • David Simmons wrote:

By any measure, Nick, £650000 is a heck of a lot of money for any one individual to donate to a political party, for no apparent return...

  • 2.
  • At 12:59 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Howard wrote:

Remember Deep Throat's advice to Bob Woodward in the Watergate scandal - follow the money!
Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner from the Telegraph are doing just that.
Glad to see there are still some real journalists out there.

  • 3.
  • At 01:04 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • andy wood wrote:

Never really understood "what goes around comes around" until this week. Ten years ago,with New Labour still very much in its honeymoon period, HH was in some trouble after letting it be known that she would take her cabinet pay rise... then Gordon Brown "advised" against and Harriet rushed to deny that she ever intended to take the money after all. And had the gall to blame her head of information (who she had briefed) for the screw up and confusion
"All political careers end in failure" and "Those who do not remember history are condemned to repeat it" and "Love of money is the root of all evil" : discuss using both sides of your Labour Party donation slip

  • 4.
  • At 01:39 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • tim wrote:

I suppose as a journalist one is always suspicious!! Also, Others may know the poem about tangled webs....

  • 5.
  • At 02:26 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Charles wrote:

Some people find it fun to blame everything on the Jews, Mossad, The yanks, the CIA, the Arabs, Islam, immigrants and what or who have you. Sad truth is these are our politicians and we voted for them - okay, so only 23% voted for this government - but all those who didn't vote are as much to blame as those who did. It's about time we took politics more seriously, it's us who are filling their trough. It's our money they are wasting while the BBC et al rush around breathlessly excited while the bigger issues sail by.

  • 6.
  • At 03:01 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Howard wrote:

Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner from the Telegraph are only doing what all real journalists should be doing. Remember Deep Throat's advice to Bob Woodward in the Watergate scandal - follow the money!!

  • 7.
  • At 03:38 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Simon wrote:

As any employee in the Financial Services Industry knows, disguising the source of funds, being party to such an activity, and accepting the proceeds of crime are known as money laundering. Odd that this Government brought in most of the Anti Money Laundering legislation

  • 8.
  • At 03:43 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Charles E Hardwidge wrote:

The Prime Minister succeeds merely by letting the ego driven desires of others inflate to monumental proportions before it evaporates or explodes in their faces. This is just more media overreaction. The feral media delights in speculation and populism. It creates headlines and solves nothing. The Prime Minister must be delighted his enemies have suckered themselves.

As the tabloid driven media is running out of steam the major broadcast companies are putting a coalition of the willing together to deliver on-demand broadcasting. This is a revolution in mainstream British industry. The go it alone don't trust the competition approach is giving way to a more enlightened approach with all the benefits that flow from that.

Quality, consensus, order, harmony, proportion, and patience are useful qualities worth developing. As reality arises and declines around us better goals, teamwork, and long-term views are emerging. Perhaps it is in response or in spite of the Prime Minister but leadership, business, and public are getting onto the same page. Nick's discrete U-turn just adds momentum to that.

All hail Blessed Leader!

  • 9.
  • At 03:58 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Howard wrote:

Robert Winnett and Gordon Rayner from the Telegraph are only doing what all real journalists should be doing. Remember Deep Throat's advice to Bob Woodward in the Watergate scandal - follow the money!!

  • 10.
  • At 04:23 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Steve Brown wrote:

I love this,

"Those close to Mr Heifetz have expressed anger at the notion that might be any stronger link, saying it was reminiscent of other cases in history where Jews have been accused of involvement in a conspiracy."

So now they'll no doubt accuse anyone pushing this story of anti-semitism.

They must be seriously desperate if they're playing that card.

  • 11.
  • At 04:36 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Stephen Roberts wrote:

Brown still thinks he is at the Treasury, driving a Rolls Royce team of the sharpest pencils in the box, all waiting to carry out his every whim. Tens years is a long time.
Instead the reality is that he is driving the old Labour horse and cart, as inefficient, incompetent and self seeking as ever. Will he ever learn?

  • 12.
  • At 05:00 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Russell wrote:

What about the Remploy story please?

polititions love money and if you ask me they are way over paid the higher up they are.. thats what they say, if u want lot's of money and little work, get into politics!

  • 14.
  • At 06:43 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • David Bateman wrote:

Much a-do about -yes, a little "something"; though it seems everyone is protesting far too much and far too long.
The sight of David Cameron, George Osborne and Co's shining, smirking, jeering faces yesterday in Parliament was in fact far worse than the offences alleged, and gave me the dreadful certainty of their unfitness to rule, should their time come soon. They obviously do relish Punch and Judy politics.
As far as commentators generally go, they're largely MAKING the news.
There are much more important issues to highlight: The oil and ex-police mafioso Iraqi corruption in the Basra area.
Provo-gang murder with barbaric cruelty in Ireland. Explaining why the Sudan is still getting away with Darfour, while insulting our reason by taking issue over naming a teddy bear by a class of seven year olds! How have they hypnotised us into such ludicrous impotence? What are their levers of international power to treat the UN as they have?
£5000 for funds to Harriet Harmon from an apparently known source seems such weak beer in comparison.

Yours sincerely,
David Bateman

  • 15.
  • At 07:00 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Martin Fox wrote:

Nick, why oh why do you feel you have to be part of the right-wing media frenzy which is swarming over this story. To compare this with the days of the Tories is frankly rediculous, there are administrative improprieties but there is no question that Mr Abrahams got any benefit from government as a result of donations to the Labour Party. As for the notion stated by David Simmons ^ that

"By any measure, Nick, £650000 is a heck of a lot of money for any one individual to donate to a political party, for no apparent return..."

This is simply slanderous, I currently donate to a political party and being young, when I progress in my career I will be paying more and more, not for any return but because I believe in the message of my party.

All of the allegations against the government at the moment seem to be part of a media-led clamour for Brown's head. There is little to no basis to the stories just lots of inference. I challenge you Nick to take a step back and actually see the accusations for what they are, not the headlines of SLEAZE in newspapers with an obvious agenda. It is part of your job as a journalist not to be a cypher for the spewings of the general public or newspaper editors but to say unequivocally that none of this amounts to sleaze, there is no evidence for it and any inference to the contrary is an attempt to influence the political landscape in a disproportionate way. I hope that you, Nick, can see the corrosive effect of the state of the media at the moment, just give us the facts as they stand with no caveats of an overtly political nature!

  • 16.
  • At 09:50 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • David Benson wrote:

"reminiscent of other cases in history where Jews have been accused of involvement in a conspiracy."

Which cases? How are we to assess the validity of this claim unless it is explicit? It seems to be in very poor taste.

  • 17.
  • At 11:06 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Paul, Lerwick wrote:

Further to Steve Howard's reference to Watergate, has anyone else noticed the physical similarity between Gordon Brown and Richard Nixon? I first spotted it in the PM's hangdog expression, but now the similarity of awkward and uneasy bearing is becoming quite striking. "There will be no whitewash..." Oh dear.

  • 18.
  • At 11:43 PM on 29 Nov 2007,
  • Anonymous wrote:

"By any measure, Nick, £650000 is a heck of a lot of money for any one individual to donate to a political party, for no apparent return..."

A True Blue point of view if ever I saw one! Of course Lord Ashcroft (to take a name at random) has also given pots of money for no return whatsoever.

As for the Torygraph, I do think they have taken 'guilt by association' to a completely new level. Unfortunately it's just typical of the standard of journalism these days.

  • 19.
  • At 10:58 PM on 30 Nov 2007,
  • Anon wrote:

Of the 60m people or so in this country, with mortgages, bills, school runs, elderly parents, sick relatives, noisy neighbours, how many do you think CARE about a few thousand pounds given to Harriet Harman's campaign. "Harriet who? What campaign?." I hear them say. You've all had your fun, but we are getting bored.Can the media now come back to the world most of us live in and report on real issues please.?

  • 20.
  • At 03:49 PM on 01 Dec 2007,
  • Jay Worthmiller wrote:

How ironic, "Anonymous". Ashcroft declares his donations and does not hide behind the cowardly cover of anonymity. Like you and this Labour funder both do. How True Red.

As for Mr Heifetz, he appears to be using the defence (sic) of "Any criticism of anyone who is Jewish must be driven by anti-Semitism". It is wrong to invoke memories of unrelated hideous racist events and acts in order to protect yourself from any criticism from Gentiles. (I am a Jewish grandson of a Holocaust survivor and absolutely ashamed of this "defence".)

  • 21.
  • At 01:14 AM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • Trevor A Smith wrote:

Certainly the Conservatives have relished the opportunity for "payback" for all the sleeze allegations made against the Major Govt and perhaps the Hutton report explains why the news department of the BBC has given unending and repetitive reporting across the whole of their output on radio and television on this breach of the law.
In all of this reporting no one has come up with evidence to show that:
Mr Abrahams' money was ill gained.
Mr Abrahams either asked for or received any "reward" for his donations
Mr Abrahams and his proxy donors were not entitled to give the money
The Labour Party did not report to the Electoral Commission by the Labour Party
Mr Abrahams' error(?) was that he wished to preserve his privacy.
The Labour Party's error was that those who knew that the donors were acting as proxies should have rejected the donations at the moment of receipt.
Not I would maintain the end of the world and totally does not warrant the torrent of reports and analysis across the BBC and the mock outrage of the Conservatives

  • 22.
  • At 03:55 PM on 03 Dec 2007,
  • jim brant wrote:

How ironic, "Anonymous", says Jay Worthmiller.

And he would have been quite right too if I had posted anonymously - but I didn't and never do. However the website was clearly having problems when I tried to post my comment, and for some reason it ignored my name.

I agree to some extent with JW about the reaction of the former Israeli diplomat, but that does not invalidate the criticism of the Torygraph for publishing a photograph with the clear implication of wrong-doing. There is no evidence of such impropriety, just as there is no evidence that anyone in the Labour Party gained any advantage from Mr Abraham's anonyimity. That is why I consider the firestorm over this issue to be so far over the top - the person who made the error and committed the crime by an unforgivable failure to check the legal position has already resigned, and the fevered attempts to spread the poison are unseemly.

  • 23.
  • At 01:05 PM on 05 Dec 2007,
  • gil bolton wrote:

One writer as pointed out, the sensible thing to do is, move on. So donations are given, it has been going on since politics began. Better to let people donate who wish to, than having the whole charade dumped on the taxpayer.

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