Labour tax scandal donor is Taxpayers’ Alliance champion

A businessman who donated £1.65m to the Labour Party is also a major trustee of a charity which has funded the Taxpayers' Alliance to the tune of over million pounds since 2008.

John Mills

A businessman who donated £1.65m to the Labour Party is also a major trustee of a charity which has funded the Taxpayers’ Alliance to the tune of over million pounds since 2008.

Shopping magnate John Mills recently gave Labour shares worth £1.6m in his shopping channel company JML – a more tax-efficient way of contributing to the party.

However according to the charity commission Mills is one of four trustees who sit on the Politics and Economics Research Trust, a charity which since 2008 has given £1.2m to the Taxpayers’ Alliance.

The others trustees are Patrick Barbour, Peter Brown and Richard Smith.

Other donations made by the Politics and Economics Research Trust were to the New Culture Forum, a right-wing group formed to combat the so-called ‘liberal establishment’, and the Centre for Policy Studies, a think tank which promotes the privatisation of public services.

In 2008 the trust donated £265,000 to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, £6,500 to the New Culture Forum and £5,000 to the Drivers’ Alliance (a group set up to campaign against road pricing). In 2009 the trust donated £240,000 to the Taxpayers’ Alliance, followed by £325,000 in 2010 and £395,000 in 2011.

Responding, John Mills told Left Foot Forward the following:

“The Politics and Economics Research Trust funds high quality publications from a number of campaign groups and think tanks, many of which I don’t agree with politically. I have only ever voted in favour of research projects that I thought were worth doing in their own right, regardless of the policies they were designed to criticise.

“I passionately believe in a vibrant political debate outside Parliament and I have written for many groups from Civitas to the Economic Research Council to the Fabian Society. Encouraging policy debate is crucial, which I why I am happy to be a Trustee of a cross-party educational research charity.”

Charity accounts

8 Responses to “Labour tax scandal donor is Taxpayers’ Alliance champion”

  1. LB

    Very easy.

    Send the shares back.

  2. MelissaK

    More interestingly, isn’t this the Taxpayer’s Alliance involved in both a tax scam and breaking charity rules? Donating to charity is ‘tax efficient’ for the donor (nevermind whether gift aid was also collected by the recipient) but then the money is largely given to a political group, which presumably could not itself register for charity status. Note that the former company secretary of this trust was none other than the TPA’s Matthew Elliott. Two TPA founders are also former trust directors. If the charity commission knows about this, unbelieveable that it hasn’t acted.

  3. MelissaK

    Further to below: the Taxpayers’ Alliance describes itself as a “campaign”. Charities are not allowed to get involved in political campaigning. The link between this trust and the TPA is therefore very dubious. Financially, apart from donations, how much money in gift aid has this trust claimed back from the government and then given largely to the TPA? How does the TPA expect to achieve lower taxes when it is scamming public money this way? The TPA ought to be required to pay back any gift aid wrongly claimed by this trust for use on political purposes.

  4. David Lindsay

    The attempted lynching of John Mills is designed to establish that is absolutely forbidden to be a hugely successful businessman and a much-published economist in the Classic Labour tradition. Or else.

    To establish that it is absolutely forbidden to oppose the EU from a Classic Labour perspective, and to have been doing so since the Year Dot. Or else.

    To establish that it is absolutely compulsory to uphold neoliberal capitalism as the only pro-business position, no matter how corrosive it might be. Or else.

    To establish that it is absolutely compulsory to uphold the Conservative Party as this country’s approved vehicle of opposition to the EU, no matter how preposterous that might have always have been. Or else.

    And to establish that it is absolutely unconscionable that a major political party, with a large and permanent lead in the opinion polls and sweeping all before it whenever real votes were cast, might have as its single largest donor a hugely successful businessman who is also a much-published economist in the Classic Labour tradition, and who on that basis has been an opponent of the EU since the Year Dot. Or else.

    But such is in fact the case. So there.

  5. Cole

    Which I might favour if the Tories reciprocated by returning, fir example, money given to them by the wife of a Lebanese arms dealer.

  6. LB

    Or the lib dems that took money obtained by fraud. Why won’t they give it back?

    They are all corrupt.

  7. Cole

    I mostly agree! The way to stop this is to limit donations to a maximum of, say, £1,000 a year. The politicians would then have to re-engage with ordinary people instead of pandering to hedge fund managers and union bosses.

  8. LB

    They won’t engage. I’ve only every had two comments come back from MPs.

    1. John Redwood.

    He made a promise about publishing the true debts, pensions included, in order to get elected.

    The comment once elected when pushed, its been published. Where? That’s not the way it works.

    2. Steve Baker.

    When pushed, spent all his time trying to find me on the electoral register so he didn’t have to answer.

    3. When it comes to corruption, in the Lords its rampant.

    I had a hand in getting Lord Taylor of Warwick sent done, and then got him struck off as a barrister.

    He’s not the only one, its rampant. The Lord’s response has been 5 state secrecy certificates, on the grounds if we were to know when they attended it would bring them into disrepute. Basically, you could compare actual attendance against expenses claims. If one is less than the other, they are fraudsters. They knew that there are lots who meet that test, so they made it a state secret.

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