I was very heartened by the Conservative Party's various policing and justice ministers yesterday. They're promising a new era of zero tolerance and swingeing sentences for criminals.
Grayling… explicitly promised to be a "tough justice secretary"
The home secretary, Theresa May, reinforced the theme with her announcement of a new "pick a punishment" power for victims of anti-social behaviour and her promise that Conservative candidates in the first elections for police and crime commissioners to be held on 15 November will have a "laser-like focus on cutting crime".
"Theresa used to say she locked 'em up and Ken let them out. Now Theresa locks 'em up, and Chris throws away the key."
"I've made no bones about my intention to be a tough justice secretary. That means I want our justice system to be firm, fair and transparent," Grayling said.I'm delighted, frankly. Why? Because I know a group of people who are benefitting from the proceeds of crime, which is a crime in itself. They've received stolen money. The thief was a man named Asil Nadir, who ran a major corporation (Polly Peck) in the 1980s. He looted it of £29, 000, 000 and fled to Northern Cyprus. He returned last year to face justice and was convicted and sentenced to a minimum of ten years in prison.
So which bunch of crooks took some of his stolen money? Why, it's the Conservative Party! They accepted a £400, 000 donation from Polly Peck, channelled through subsidiaries without the consent of directors or shareholders.
Touche Ross, the administrators of Polly Peck, wrote a letter – widely reported four years ago – to the party's central office claiming that £365,000 came from money defrauded from the Polly Peck empire.
"It is the contention of the administrator that Mr Nadir is liable to repay the sums concerned as a result of his fraud and/or breach of fiduciary duty and/or malfeasance as a director," the letter concluded. "I would urge you to return the donations to Polly Peck so that the creditors can at least obtain some small measure of compensation from this unfortunate affair."
At the time, Conservative leaders promised to pay it back if it was found to be stolen. Now they're refusing to return it to compensate the shareholders and employees of the looted company.
Clearly crime is something other people commit.
Time for a letter to my local MP Paul Uppal and to the chairman of the Tory Party… one Grant Shapps! Just sent this:
Dear Mr Uppal and Mr Shapps,
I am heartened by the Conservative Party's crackdown on crime. In that spirit, can I ask you to confirm that the Conservative Party will return the money donated by Asil Nadir via several subsidiaries in the 1980s, as promised by Sir John Major?
According to Touche Ross, the liquidators, at least £365,000 was illegally donated: "It is the contention of the administrator that Mr Nadir is liable to repay the sums concerned as a result of his fraud and/or breach of fiduciary duty and/or malfeasance as a director," the letter concluded. "I would urge you to return the donations to Polly Peck so that the creditors can at least obtain some small measure of compensation from this unfortunate affair."
If this money is not returned, I'm afraid the only conclusion one can draw is that the Party's attitude to crime is contingent on its own financial health.