Brown says donations unacceptable

Other News Materials 28 November 2007 06:46 (UTC +04:00)

Prime Minister Gordon Brown, caught in a scandal over donations to his Labour Party and stung by a string of woes, insisted Tuesday voters would judge him on a long-term record, not current crises.

Brown held a news conference the day after Labour's General-Secretary Peter Watt stepped down, acknowledging he knew a donor was channeling funding through associates to dodge transparency rules.

"The money was not lawfully declared, so it will be returned," Brown said.

Businessman David Abrahams said he gave Labour $825,000 through the accounts of others to avoid laws that require major donors to be named.

The Labour governments of former Prime Minister Tony Blair and now Brown's have been fending off allegations that the party traded honorary titles - including seats in the House of Lords - for donationss.

The scandal comes amid a series of problems for Brown. Notably tax officials lost computer disks containing personal data and bank details for about half Britain's population. Soon after, ex-defense chiefs accused him of neglecting the armed forces.

Brown's woes have handed the opposition Conservative Party their largest opinion poll lead - 13 percentage points - since 1988, even before the current campaign funding issue.

Reporters pressed him Tuesday with questions on whether his government had lost its way - and whether he could still claim the moral high ground.

"My moral compass says that what happened over these donations ... is completely unacceptable," Brown said. "That's why, the minute I knew that this was happening, I have taken action."

Smiling broadly as he was questioned by reporters, Brown claimed the public would conclude his response to recent turmoil has been correct.

"People will be able to look back, people will be able to see we took the long-term view, took the difficult decisions and then moved on," Brown said.

He said a retired judge and a retired Church of England bishop would study the funding affair.

Police said in July there was no evidence to bring charges in the honors case, after they interviewed Blair three times and arrested aides. ( AP )