Love Actually producer puts Labour donations on top in first campaign week

<span>Keir Starmer’s party received a total of £926,908 in the first week, according to the Electoral Commission.</span><span>Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images</span>
Keir Starmer’s party received a total of £926,908 in the first week, according to the Electoral Commission.Photograph: Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Labour received more donations than the Conservatives in the first week of the campaign, including £500,000 from the producer of Love Actually and Notting Hill, figures show.

Donors gave Labour £926,908, but only £574,918 to the Tories in the week starting with the dissolution of parliament on 30 May, according to Electoral Commission records.

Labour’s biggest donation, drawing them ahead of the Conservatives, was £500,000 from Toledo Productions Ltd, a film production company controlled by the producer Duncan Kenworthy, who worked on several Richard Curtis films. It marks a return to political donations for Kenworthy, who gave David Miliband £5,000 towards his campaign for the Labour leadership in 2010.

Conservative fundraisers may also be alarmed by the identity of two donors to Reform on 5 June, two days after Nigel Farage announced he would stand in the general election and take over as leader of the party. Reform raised £140,000 in total, all coming after Farage’s announcement.

Fitriani Hay was Liz Truss’s biggest donor for her leadership campaign in 2022, giving £100,000. She had previously given more than £500,000 to the Conservatives. Now Hay, the wife of James Hay, a former BP executive who has a construction and luxury goods empire, has given Farage’s party £50,000.

Her donation was matched by HR Smith Group Ltd, a company owned by Richard Smith, who gave the then Brexit party £100,000 through a subsidiary of HR Smith, Techtest, during the 2019 European election campaign. HR Smith Group also gave £10,000 to Iain Duncan Smith’s constituency association in August 2021.

Reform’s third donor, Peter Hall, gave £40,000 two days after giving £25,000 to the Social Democratic party. In October 2022, Reform and the SDP agreed a general election pact, standing aside for each other in six constituencies.

Further donations to Reform are expected to be published soon, with sources telling the Guardian that the party had raised £1.5m in the days after Farage’s announcement.

The Lebanese businessman Bassim Haidar gave the Conservatives £75,000 and paid for travel worth £13,000. Haidar, a non-dom, said at the beginning of May that he had decided to “urgently” leave the UK to avoid paying millions of pounds in tax after the Conservatives introduced policies to scrap non-dom tax status.

Political parties may have received other donations, but newly increased thresholds to the transparency regime mean that only the details of gifts of more than £11,180 sent straight to parties’ headquarters, made either one-off or cumulative, are published by the Electoral Commission.

Details of donations made in the general election campaign will be published twice more before polling day, covering the period up to 19 June.

Political parties standing across the UK can spend up to £35.1m in the year up to and including polling day.

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