Hain's Progressive Policies
Quit now over £100,000, Peter Hain is advised by a member of his campaign team - Times Online
The team member said that the Work and Pension Secretary’s position had become untenable after he disclosed that half the money was originally intended for a fledgeling left-wing think-tank but was instead used to pay off campaign debts.
The monies had been previously donated to Progressive Policies Forum (PPF). When unpaid bills came to light PPF was approached and with the permission of the individual donors concerned the monies were donated to Hain4Labour to meet these debts.
Progressive Policies Forum, incidentally, was set up in December 2006, has no website and lists a solicitor as its only named director and last night nobody in Westminster seemed to have heard of it. Willie Nagel, a diamond dealer, is one of the 17 figures who both donated and lent money to Peter Hain. According to the Financial Times,.., he wanted to keep his identity secret. Nagel is understood to have requested that Hain repay a £25,000 interest-free loan this weekend. Hain's bad week is not over yet.
Why did Peter Hain take donations through a think-tank that doesn't seem to think?
It's been more than six months since the Labour leadership contest finished, but incredibly the row about campaign funding is still raging.
Peter Hain has been under attack from bloggers for months, but this week the row erupted into the mainstream press.
It's a very unusual think-tank that has no internet presence of its own.
Most think-tanks, such as the Institute of Public Policy Research, or the Smith Institute, are registered as charities. But there is no Progressive Policies Forum registered with the Charities Commission.
A minority of think-tanks, including the Policy Exchange and the Centre for Policy Studies, are registered as companies, rather than charities.
But those two are both a type of organisation called a company limited by guarantee, which is what you would normally use to incorporate a not-for-profit undertaking, like a youth club (or indeed, a think-tank).
The PPF, however, is an ordinary limited company - the kind of company you'd set up if you were running a restaurant or a newsagent.
Most think-tank boards would be studded with the grandees and influential figures from whatever shade of political opinion the tank does its thinking about.
Not so the PPF. It has only one director and one sole shareholder - the same person.
So, what does all this prove? Well, on its own, it proves nothing. But it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. If the PPF is a genuine think-tank, why has it published nothing in more a year of its existence? Where are the thinkers? Where is their tank? Who set it up?
Although unconfirmed, one possible answer to that last question is lobbyist Steve Morgan, who was one of Peter Hain's campaign managers, and is now working on the Clinton campaign in the US.
One of his other companies, Nettrap Ltd, used the same Wimpole Street address for three years, from 2004 to 2007.
He was also one of the donors who sent donations through the PPF.
But if it's not a genuine think-tank, what was it? One possibility being suggested is that its purpose may have been to conceal the identity of the donors - but that seems unlikely. It's difficult to see how any rational person could ever think it would work.
And if the PPF was set up primarily to channel donations, why was it set up seven months before it paid out any cash?
There is no suggestion that any of this breaches election rules - the only wrong-doing was the failure to declare the donations on time, for which Peter Hain has already apologised.
The whole thing simply makes no sense. But it does serious damage to Hain's reputation for competence.