Tom Watson follow the money

Tom Watson
Tom Watson criticised for taking money from Change UK funder Sir David Garrard

Watson is accepting donations of thousands of pounds from a businessman who also finances opponents of the Labour leadership

Tom Watson criticised for taking money from Change UK funder Sir David Garrard

He accepted £10,000 from retired property developer Sir David Garrard on April 12.

Mr Watson said the donation was to “support my office as deputy leader of the Labour Party.”

However, Mr Garrard also dished out £10,000 to Joan Ryan on March 21 — a month after she abandoned Labour to help form The Independent Group (TIG), now known as Change UK.

Ms Ryan — who cited “demonisation and delegitimisation” of Israel as a reason for her defection — received another donation, of £8,000, from the businessman on April 3.

At the same time, Mr Garrard has also been bankrolling another Labour defector, Ian Austin, who quit the party around the same time as Ms Ryan but did not join TIG.

Mr Austin, who is now sits in Parliament as an independent, received £10,000 from Mr Garrard on April 4.

When they quit Labour, both MPs blamed leader Jeremy Corbyn’s alleged “failure to tackle anti-semitism” as a factor in the decision.

Mr Watson has also claimed the Labour leadership is not doing enough to eliminate anti-semitism from the party.

He, Ms Ryan and Mr Austin are all supporters of Labour Friends of Israel, according to the lobby group’s website — despite two of them no longer being Labour MPs. Ms Ryan even continues to chair the group.

It is not the first time that Mr Watson has taken money from Mr Garrard, having pocketed £15,000 from the businessman last September.

Glyn Secker from Jewish Voice for Labour said:

“It is clear that this deputy leader of our party, someone who was elected to office and then appointed to this post as an ally of Corbyn, has revealed his traitorous nature.

“Jewish Voice for Labour has consistently condemned the tiny but nevertheless vile incidents of anti-semitism in the Labour Party, but equally consistently has called out the megaphone campaign by Watson and his allies to smear Corbyn and the whole party as anti-semitic as one driven by political hostility to the programme of radical reform.

“From his party office, he has engineered a pincer movement on the leadership, complimenting the TIGs by maintaining a base with [Corbyn opponent] Margaret Hodge inside the party.

“The common sources of funding says it all. By his vitriolic attacks on Corbyn, he has already brought the party into disrepute.

“No wonder motions from branches calling for his dismissal are multiplying.”

However, not all of Mr Watson’s donors have continued to fund him.

Ms Ryan received £5,000 from pro-Israel lobbyist Sir Trevor Chinn on March 19. Mr Chinn has previously donated to Mr Watson, awarding him over £50,000 between 2015 and 2018.

Ms Ryan also received hospitality worth £8,500 from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee last month for flights and accommodation connected to its conference in Washington, where she spoke “on the subject of anti-semitism in the UK.”

Watson’s not new to having large donations passed his way.

Tom Watson, has received half a million pounds in donations from Max Mosley in less than a year, official records show.

The latest register of MPs’ interests reveals that Watson registered a donation worth £300,000 from the former boss of Formula One this month. It was made via the party to support Watson’s office as deputy leader and shadow culture secretary.

That followed a £200,000 donation from Mosley last June for a similar purpose. Mosley had previously donated £40,000 to support Watson’s bid to become the party’s deputy leader in 2015.

“I’m proud to call Max Mosley a friend and I’m delighted he has made a financial contribution to Labour,” Watson said. “His generous donation will help the party develop strong policies for our next manifesto.”

John McDonnell has suggested Tom Watson should hand back half a million pounds in donations from controversial campaigner Max Mosley.

The Shadow Chancellor said Mr Watson should “consider” his relationship with the privacy activist “and the finances as well” after Mr Mosley said it was fine to pay immigrants to “go home”.

It comes after Mr Mosley was engulfed in a storm over a racist leaflet.

A 1961 pamphlet apparently published by Mr Mosley and claiming “coloured immigration threatens your children’s health” was unearthed last week.

It appears to contradict evidence the ex-Formula 1 boss gave to a High Court trial in 2008 that he had no knowledge of it – although Mr Mosley says he does not remember the leaflet and insists he is not racist.

Labour said it would no longer accept donations from the tycoon after he gave some £500,000 to Mr Watson to help in his fight against the tabloid press.

Culture Secretary Matt Hancock has said Mr Watson should be “thinking very hard” about handing the cash back – but the Labour deputy leader gave no hint that he would return it.

He said simply that he would not have taken it in the first place if he had “thought for one moment that he [Mr Mosley] held the views contained in that leaflet of 57 years ago”.

But Mr McDonnell took a different tack after it was put to him that Mr Mosley said he would support paying immigrants to leave the country.

“If those are the same views now well Tom will really need to consider seriously exactly that relationship with Max Mosley and the finances as well,” he told Sky News show Sunday With Niall Paterson.

“Because if he is reiterating these views from the past he really hasn’t changed.”

Mr Mosley told the Guardian he thought it was

“perfectly legitimate to offer immigrants financial inducements to go home”.

In the Commons Watson said: “If I had thought for one moment that he held the views contained in that leaflet of 57 years ago, I would not have given him the time of day.

“He is, however, a man who, in the face of great family tragedy and overwhelming media intimidation, chose to use his limited resources to support the weak against the strong.”

A Labour spokesman said about the donations: “We’ve shifted away from payments and contributions from large wealthy donors.


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