Political

Seven people charged over donations to Conservative local association

The BBC reports a dramatic twist in a long running saga:

Seven people have been charged with electoral offences by police investigating a missing £10.25m loan to Northampton Town Football Club.

The six men and one woman have been charged over donations made to Northampton South Conservative Association in 2014.

It is alleged they failed to ensure the true source of the money was disclosed.

They are due to appear before Northampton Magistrates’ Court on 16 July.

The hearings will take place almost six years after the launch of Operation Tuckhill, the police inquiry into the disappearance of money loaned by Northampton Borough Council to the football club to pay for the redevelopment of its East Stand and nearby land.

The stand remains uncompleted.

The defendants have been charged under a section of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 which requires donors of over £500 to a political party to give details of the source of the funds. [BBC]

To give some context, earlier this year a KPMG report found serious problems over the loan:

A £10.25m council loan to a football club for use on a stadium redevelopment had “serious failings”, a report found.

Northampton Borough Council loaned the money, which has since disappeared, to Northampton Town in 2013 and 2014 to rebuild a stand and develop land.

The Public Interest Report “calls into question the legality” of decision-making over the deal…

It found “serious failings” in the council’s “arrangements” over the loan and said it should have been possible to “foresee the risk of the council being exposed to financial loss or liability” and it “should have mitigated that risk accordingly”.

A failure to do this “rendered the decisions… unlawful”, the report said…

The report authors were told by officers and councillors there had been pressure, “mainly” from David Mackintosh, the then Conservative leader of the council, to complete the deal. [BBC]

Hat tip: David Allworthy.

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