Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert has come under pressure after a Channel 4 Dispatches programme revealed disgraced Lib Dem peer, Lord Strasburger, donated £2,000 to the Cambridge Liberal Democrats.
Lord Strasburger resigned from the Liberal Democrats on the 21st March after it came to light that Channel 4’s Dispatches had obtained footage of the peer seeking to circumvent disclosure laws on a proposed £10,000 donation.
The Parliamentary record of members’ financial interests shows that Julian Huppert’s local campaign received a £2,000 donation from the peer in March 2014.
Concerns were raised after City Council leader, Lewis Herbert asked Julian Huppert to clarify the details of the donation via Twitter. It has since been confirmed that the donation to Cambridge Liberal Democrats did not breach Electoral Commission rules.
In a comment to The Cambridge Student, a Cambridge Liberal Democrat spokesperson said: “Lord Strasburger made a personal donation to Julian’s campaign in March 2014, in recognition of Julian’s work on civil liberties issues, in particular online surveillance.”
They also clarified: “The donation was legal and fully declared in accordance with Electoral Commission rules.”
Nonetheless, the local party did not comment on whether or not they had intentions of paying back the money in light of the recent allegations.
Cambridge’s other Parliamentary candidates condemned the allegations, with Green Party candidate, Rupert Read, telling Cambridge News: “I was astonished to watch last night on Channel 4’s Dispatches, as the now-disgraced Lord Strasburger sought to circumvent the law on party-funding, right under the nose of Nick Clegg, live on a hidden camera.”
“I would assume that no Lib Dem will now want to take any money besmirched by Strasburger.”
UKIP candidate and MEP, Patrick O’Flynn, commented: “Political fundraising is seldom easy, particularly for a party that is down on its luck like the Lib Dems.”
He added: “I am sure Julian will reflect on the wisdom or otherwise of this donation and then do whatever he concludes is the right thing.”
One student called on the MP to repay the donation, telling TCS: “I don’t really get how Huppert can claim to be at a financial disadvantage when he’s this well funded. He really should give back any donation from someone embroiled in an access scandal.”
Cambridge News has also this morning highlighted supposed discrepancies in donations received by Julian Huppert from local businessman, Gerald Avison.
Where the register of members’ financial interests shows that the Cambridge Liberal Democrats received a £10,000 donation in June 2014, this does not appear on the records of the Electoral Commission. A £2,500 donation from Mr Avison, received in November 2014 appears on the Electoral Commission records, but is missing from the register of members’ interests.
A party spokeswoman told Cambridge News: “We received two separate donations from Gerald Avison which were listed on our donation returns in accordance with the rules and submitted to the federal party in June and November.”
She added: “We are not responsible for making them public and have no jurisdiction over when they are displayed on the Electoral Commission website.”