Questions over equality minister donations

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a white background.

The husband of Barbara Follett may have inadvertantly embroiled her in the furore over donations.

Ms Follett is the minister for equality, which includes LGBT rights.

Her husband, multi-millionaire novelist Ken Follett, is a longtime Labour supporter.

In an appearance BBC’s Sunday AM with Andrew Marr on 28th October, he boasted that:

“She spends all of her allowances and all of her salary running her office and I actually subsidise it to the tune of every year at least a hundred thousand pounds a year.”

Right-wing blog The Huntsman reports that Ms Follett has not declared this annual donation in the Register of Member’s Interests.

If the donation is a reality, that is a breach of the rules.

Financial support from one source of more than £1000 has to be registered with the Electoral Commission recorded in the Register of Members’ Interests.

In the latest version of the register Ms Follett, MP for Stevenage since 1997, does declare:

“Remunerated employment, office, profession etc Communications consultant to Ken Follett (author).”

In addidtion to her equality role Ms Follett is a work and pensions minister.

Last week it emerged that Secretary of State for Equality Harriet Harman breached party funding rules when she accepted a £5,000 “proxy” donation for her campaign for deputy leader from David Abrahams.

She has pledged to repay the money.

Controversial businessman Mr Abrahams made donations worth hundreds of thousands of pounds to Labour that were not “lawfully declared.”

Mr Abrahams used four associates to donate money over four years. Giving money under someone else’s name is unlawful.

Ms Harman won the Labour deputy leadership in June and was made Secretary of State for Equality, chair of the Labour party and Leader of the House.

“I don’t think there’s any question of me having broken either the letter or the spirit of the law,” she said in relation to the donation to her campaign.