Sunday, June 24, 2007

Cash rules everything around me

OK, remember this post on the Labour Party's "Faith Task Force", academies, and the PR man to the Saudis, BAE, and HIV-quack dictator Yahya Jammeh? For a start, it's drawing referrals from the Conservative Party's network. This story in the Torygraph gives more detail: it's the PM's pet priest, Michael Seed, who introduced Bailey and two other plutocrats to Blair via "two senior Downing Street officials" as long ago as December, 2002.

Between them, they fronted up £8 million of donations to academies (presumably the ones controlled by Bailey's United Learning Trust) plus - fascinatingly - a million-pound cash contribution direct to the Labour Party from Iranian exile Mahmoud Khayami. The other two payers were Jasper Conran and the chief investment officer of super-venture cap fund Apax Partners, Adrian Beecroft.

Khayami is a member of Bailey's Catholic order of chivalry, and was responsible for selling the old Hillman Imp tooling to Iran in the late 70s. He paid up for the academies (if he did - many of the donors have been very slow to come up with the cash) back in 2005, but the cashdump for the Labour Party was on the 3rd of June this year.

What interests me, though, is Beecroft's role. Now, we know that Gordon Brown's best mate in business is Ronnie Cohen, the founder of Apax. But here's a question. Am I right, or am I right, in saying that the decision to extend taper relief from capital gains tax, from which so many private-equity/VC guys have personally profited, came after 2002? I'm aware that taper relief began in 1998, and it was extended in 2002, but this seems to have predated the events detailed above.

And I'm also aware that someone's googling for "Tony Blair's personal meetings with Jammeh of the Gambia". Somebody got disappeared from there, y'know.

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