Tower Hamlets councillor holds his hands up to Momentum's election offences over cash payments as its treasurer
PUBLISHED: 17:00 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 21:44 08 March 2019
A Tower Hamlets councillor who was the national treasurer for the now-discredited Momentum campaign in the 2017 snap General Election has cost the organisation more than £15,000 in fines over undeclared donations.
Labour’s Cllr Puru Miah was the named person responsible for Momentum’s election canvassing at the time.
His organisation has been fined on four offenses by the Electoral Commission which includes failing to declare £23,000 in donations before the legal deadline.
He also failed as its national treasurer to provide all invoices, failed to submit an accurate spending report and failed to make a declaration with his donations report after the election, according to the Commission.
Another £16,700 in fines has also been slapped on Momentum for similar electoral offences involving other responsible members.
“It’s crucial that voters can see accurate spending after a poll,” the commission’s regulation director Louise Edwards said.
“The fines reflect Momentum’s poor record-keeping and failure to follow advice we gave before the election.
“Political campaigning is Momentum’s full-time work, so it’s disappointing that it has failed to meet the law’s requirements.”
The Electoral Commission suspected overspending, but found “no evidence” of exceeding the £37,920 limit.
Yet it did find “filing mistakes and clerical errors”, Cllr Miah has told the East London Advertiser.
“Momentum won’t make these mistakes again,” he said in a statement today to the paper. “I was the national treasurer between 2017 and 18 when the snap election was called.
“Our strategy will remain the same. We have put in place comprehensive systems so we can fully adhere to the regulations next time—and be ready for an election if it’s called tomorrow.”
Cllr Miah has been criticised by the council’s opposition Tory group following the Electoral Commission naming him in its action against Momentum.
Former group leader Peter Golds said: “His legal qualifications seem to have deserted him when approached by the Electoral Commission on his incorrect spending returns. His performance as a councillor has been completely indifferent.”
Cllr Miah, an executive member of Tower Hamlets Labour Party, has lived in Mile End for 11 years in the voting ward he now represents at the town hall, although his registered address is Wicker Street in Shadwell. He works at east London magistrates’ courts.
The rules of Momentum insist that its 40,000 members also belong to the Labour party. But many in Labour distance themselves from the grassroots movement which they see as a Hard Left caucus within the rank-and-file putting its weight behind controversial party leader Jeremy Corbyn.