Labour MP Virendra Sharma's party is checked out by the Electoral Commission
The Electoral Commission is looking into a £5,000 donation that allegedly paid for a party held for the Labour MP Virendra Sharma.
After Mandrake’s report last month that Virendra Sharma, the Labour MP, was facing allegations that the Indian tourism office had donated £5,000 for a party to celebrate his general election victory, the Electoral Commission is now looking into the affair.
A spokesman for the commission tells me that it has begun an “assessment” of what, if any, involvement the Indian-born Sharma had with the donation. Accepting donations from foreign sources is illegal under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
The party, which was attended by David Miliband, the former foreign secretary, and Lord Paul, the Labour donor, was held on May 23 last year at Monsoon Banqueting Suites in Southall, Sharma’s constituency in west London.
An invoice of £5,000 was allegedly sent to the tourist office, Incredible India. Jagdish Chander, its director, received a letter thanking him for funding the event.
Under India’s Right to Information laws, Incredible India has provided documents that claimed it provided the donation. The invoice is alleged to have been fake, with a forged signature.
Sharma tells me: “I welcome the opportunity to have the facts properly examined and will fully co-operate with the Electoral Commission so that this matter can be resolved without delay.”
When Sharma’s attention had been earlier drawn to the matter by Phil Taylor, a councillor in Ealing, he declared: “I vehemently deny the false allegations that have appeared in various media.
"I have never received a donation from Indiatourism and have therefore never been liable to make a declaration in the Parliamentary register of members’ interests.”