Hain ‘did not break ministerial code’

Peter Hain has been cleared of breaching the ministerial code over donations to his deputy Labour leadership campaign.

Cabinet secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell had been asked to investigate claims Mr Hain had exposed himself to a potential conflict of interest when accepting donations to fund his failed deputy leadership bid last year.

Today the top civil service ruled Mr Hain had not broken the standards of behaviour expected from members of the government.

The Cabinet Office confirmed to politics.co.uk that none of the donations to Mr Hain’s campaign represented a conflict of interest – as had already been stated by the permanent secretary at Mr Hain’s own department.

The decision followed a complaint by a Liberal Democrat MP and it is believed Sir Gus has communicated his decision in a letter to the MP.

Concerns were raised after it emerged that a loans firm and construction company that the work and pensions secretary had publicly endorsed had funded his campaign for the deputy leadership of the Labour party.

Mr Hain also failed to declare donations from the GMB union, which had been lobbying the secretary to halt the closure of Remploy factories.

The work and pensions secretary had already said he discussed the donations with Sir Leigh Lewis, permanent secretary at the Department of Work and Pensions, who cleared him of any conflict of interest.

Mr Hain is still under investigation by the Electoral Commission and commissioner for parliamentary standards.

The Electoral Commission could refer the matter to the police if it finds Mr Hain broke the rules on funding by failing to declare £103,000 in donations to his campaign.