Work and Pensions Secretary and Welsh Secretary Peter Hain yesterday quit the Cabinet after his late declaration of £103,000 of donations to his Labour Party deputy leadership campaign was referred to the Metropolitan Police.
Hain quit within minutes of the Electoral Commission saying that it had decided to refer the late declaration of £103,000 out of a total of £185,000 of donations to the police.
He said: ‘In view of the Electoral Commission decision, I will be resigning to clear my name and I will be making a statement shortly.’
A Metropolitan Police statement said: ‘We can confirm that the Met has today (24.1.08) received a formal referral from the Electoral Commission in connection with potential breaches of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 regarding donations received.
‘An investigation will now begin by detectives from the Specialist and Economic Crime Command, led by Acting Commander Nigel Mawer.’
In his later statement Hain said: ‘In view of the Electoral Commission decision today, I will be resigning to clear my name.
‘I have very much enjoyed working as Secretary of State for Work and Pensions and as Secretary of State for Wales, carrying forward the values and the policies of full employment, abolishing child poverty, justice for pensioners, democratic reform and all the other policies that I strongly believe in.’
The Electoral Commission statement had said: ‘On 29 November 2007, Peter Hain MP informed the Electoral Commission that he had not fully reported to the Commission donations he had received for his Labour Party deputy leadership campaign.
‘Mr Hain has since met with the Commission and provided additional information about donations he received. The Electoral Commission has undertaken a thorough review of this information.
‘Following discussions with the Metropolitan Police Service and the Crown Prosecution Service, the Electoral Commission has now referred matters to the Metropolitan Police for them to consider whether an investigation should commence.’
Hain earlier wrote to Prime Minister Gordon Brown: ‘I made a mistake but it was an innocent mistake.’
Prime Minister Brown said Hain had done ‘the right and honourable thing’ and paid tribute to his work especially as Northern Ireland Secretary.
Hain has blamed poor administration and has said the suggestion he tried to hide anything was ‘absurd’.
With shadow chancellor Osborne facing questions over donations of £500,000, Tory leader Cameron, was restrained in his comments.
Cameron said: ‘He’s made the decision today. I think it’s the right one, but the prime minister shouldn’t have allowed it to go on so long.’