Hain denies donations wrongdoing

Embattled Cabinet minister Peter Hain has dismissed claims of wrongdoing related to donations to his Labour deputy leadership campaign as “absurd”.

A statement from the work and pensions and Wales secretary delivered this afternoon to reporters reiterated his “full and unreserved” apology over the failure to register over £100,000.

He faces investigation from the Electoral Commissioner and the parliamentary commissioner for standards after admitting 17 undeclared donations on Thursday night.

“I apologise for the embarrassment caused by poor administration and lack of early and clear disclosure,” Mr Hain said.

“However, I make no apology for being a committed candidate in Labour’s deputy leadership campaign or for raising the funds necessary to run a modern campaign.”

Earlier today Mr Hain faced new claims relating to the activities of a London thinktank, the Progressive Policies Forum.

This was founded before Mr Hain began his bid to become the Labour party’s deputy leader and allegations suggest it may have been used to channel funds towards his political campaign.

The BBC reported two people who had made contributions to the thinktank had not been told the funds would be used to support his political campaign.

Today Mr Hain added: “I was not involved in establishing the PPF but it was prepared and able to assist in making donations to the campaign and did so.

“Of course, when I reported these late to the Electoral Commission, I provided full details. I am now making immediate arrangements to repay £25,000 of the monies raised by or through the PPF as it came in the form of an interest-free loan.”

There were no conflicts of interest between his ministerial duties and any of the donors to his campaign, he emphasised.