Michael Brown was sentenced to two years in jail yesterday

Lib Dem bankroller banged up

Lib Dem bankroller banged up

The Liberal Democrat donor who helped fund the party’s general election campaign has been jailed for two years after pleading guilty to perjury and obtaining a passport by deception.

Michael Brown – who gave £2.4 million to the Lib Dems to help fight the 2005 election – pleaded guilty to the charges in July, and was sentenced at Southwark Crown Court yesterday.

Sentencing the 40-year-old millionaire businessman, the judge said he had displayed “very deliberate and pointed” dishonesty.

The Scottish financier was arrested along with his wife Sharon on Majorca’s west coast hours before his 40th birthday party.

He admitted lying about his business operations and confessed to making false declarations to the Passport Office last November by telling them he had lost his previous passport in a washing machine so he could flee Britain.

The perjury offence was prosecuted privately by the HSBC bank, who suspected Mr Brown had sworn a false affidavit over the use of company funds. He then lied to the High Court, and surrendered his passport but obtained a new one deceptively and was consequently arrested in Majorca in May by the CPS.

Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said: “These are two very serious offences. With regards to the charge of obtaining a false passport, this was a very direct and pointed flouting of a direct court order.

“With regard to the second count, of perjury, this was very deliberate and well thought through.”

Mr Brown’s barrister, Nicholas Purnell QC, said: “His life has been utterly transformed from the successful bonds trader he was in October 2005.”

The whisky-maker’s son had his assets – which include five properties, a Porsche, a Bentley, paintings, computers, documents, and a £400,000 yacht – seized by police and frozen.

Mr Brown was the Lib Dems’ largest ever donor who led a flamboyant lifestyle, even lending former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy his private jet.

It emerged last year that he had bankrolled the Lib Dems using a Swiss bank account through his company – Fifth Avenue Partners – which was not registered in the UK.

Electoral laws forbid political parties from accepting money from overseas, and while the electoral commission ruled the party could keep the cash, it condemned the Lib Dems for failing to investigate their donors.

The party have not commented on the sentencing, but a spokesman said yesterday that the “small number of bounced cheques” should not have prevented Mr Brown being a donor.

He added: “[We] acted in good faith at all times in relation to the receipt and expenditure of donations from his company, Fifth Avenue Partners. We conducted appropriate checks on the source of these donations within the statutory timescale.”

As well as the jail sentence, Mr Brown was ordered to pay HSBC’s costs of up to £80,000.