Ministers Linked to Animal Rights Lobby; as Blair Pledges Fox-Hunting Ban We Reveal Labour's Astonishing Cash Ties
Buckwell, Andrew, Sunday Mirror (London, England)
TWO Government ministers have financial links with the anti-fox hunting lobby group which has given Labour more than pounds 1 million in election funds.
Our investigation has revealed that Angela Beveridge, sister of Sports Minister Tony Banks, is a pounds 30,000-a-year employee of the Political Animal Lobby, which gave Labour one of its biggest donations.
Until the last election Ms Beveridge was Banks's secretary while research in the MP's office was funded by PAL and the International Fund for Animal Welfare, both set up by millionaire Brian Davies.
Also, Fisheries and Countryside Minister Elliot Morley has enjoyed IFAW's hospitality on a trip to Prince Edward Island, Canada, and has received research assistance from PAL.
Our findings follow revelations that the animal rights organisation was threatening an anti-Labour publicity blitz if the Government did not act to ban fox hunting and Tony Blair's surprise announcement, on TV's Question Time, that hunting would be banned.
Our investigation has also revealed that Bank's wife Sally is on the board of directors of one of IFAW's sister charities.
Banks has also accepted trips abroad funded by IFAW, which included a fortnight cruise liner trip to the Antarctic.
Former IFAW company secretary Ian MacPhail, who introduced Banks to Brian Davies, said: "Two of Mr Banks's family work for IFAW and PAL which I think is entirely wrong."
Asked whether he thought it was a conflict of interest he said: "I was surprised to see it."
Banks is understood to have been instrumental in introducing Davies to Tony Blair.
Mr Blair met Davies, 65, at a dinner in 1996 which was also attended by Matthew Harding, the millionaire Chelsea boss who was also a close friend of Banks, 57. Harding died later in a helicopter crash.
Davies and Harding later said they were to give a staggering pounds 1 million each to the Labour party election coffers.
We have also revealed that IFAW funded two independent direct mailing leaflet campaigns which indirectly urged supporters to vote Labour.
The campaigns, which also including newspaper adverts, cost IFAW pounds 2 million and helped to encourage animal rights supporters to vote Labour.
The leaflets could not directly urge supporters to vote Labour because this would breach regulations on party expenditure during campaigns.
We have revealed Brian Davies made it his priority to win influence at the heart of Labour with success. …