If you are a party treasurer or official, it appears that you will soon be able to sleep a little easier. Under planned new provisions, as long as you make reasonable efforts to establish that a donation was permissible under the law then you cannot be guilty of any crime connected to accepting a dodgy donation.
The Political Parties and Elections Bill is making its way through parliament, with peers discussing it earlier this month. It covers the laws connected to the acceptance of donations, rules for campaigning and provisions governing the conduct of elections.
Clause 9, "defence to charge of failing to return donation to impermissible donor", amends Section 56 of the original 2000 Act and makes very intriguing reading. It clarifies that "if a party or a treasurer is charged with an offence of accepting an impermissible donation, the party or party treasurer will not be guilty if they can show that they took all reasonable steps to verify that the donation was from a permissible donor."
Hmmm, in the light of various ongoing scandals over party donations that's all very convenient, isn't it?
As if that wasn't bad enough:
One expert, who has been following the progress of the bill very closely, suspects he knows what it is all about beyond ensuring nobody goes to jail. Ultimately, he claims, it could allow parties to argue they should keep any dodgy money on the grounds that they did not know it was impermissible when they accepted it.
And politicians wonder why we hate them, loathe them and despise them as much as we do. Do you really think that it's OK for you, Mr Politician, to create rules which benefit yourselves and exempt yourselves from behaviour that would be considered criminal, or at the very least inappropriate and immoral, anywhere else?
Update: Fucking Penguin, always one fucking step ahead of me. Cunt.