Progressive Policies Forum

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Progressive Policies Forum (PPF; aka Progressive Policy Forum) is a shell organization that "employs no staff and has apparently not published any work since its inception in December 2006," and the only person known to associated with it is Peter Hain, the (2008) Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.[1]

The Guardian reports:

A hitherto unknown thinktank that passed tens of thousands of pounds to Peter Hain's deputy leadership campaign has never published any work or held any meetings since its incorporation in December 2006. Concerns over the exact role of the Progressive Policies Forum mounted yesterday and threatened to undermine efforts by the work and pensions secretary to clear his name and explain how he and his team had failed to register more than £100,000 in donations to the Electoral Commission.
Hain admitted that four donors to the PPF had agreed for money to be given to his campaign to clear late debts. Just over £50,000 worth of donations or loans were transferred. However, there were questions at Westminster last night over why the PPF was set up in the first place. There is no evidence that it has published anything or held any meetings. It also has no website.
Registered as a limited company, it was set up just over a year ago - three months after Hain declared his candidacy for the deputy leadership of the Labour party. But the PPF has not filed any accounts to Companies House. There is only one director (who holds the Forum's single share - worth £1[2]), Gregory McEwen, a solicitor from Chorleywood, Hertfordshire with a practice in Wimpole Street, London. Other senior members of Labour thinktanks have never heard of the body or any work it has undertaken...
John Underwood, who was a key figure in the Hain campaign and is thought to be a driving force behind the PPF(The Independent reports that he 'set up' the PPF and is involved as a trustee[3]), issued a statement last night saying that the think-tank had been set up to "advance progressive policies through research and other political activities".
He said: "It received contributions from several individuals, monies that were available to be used by PPF in different ways. After the Labour deputy leadership campaign it became clear that Hain4Labour had significantly overspent and it was decided that contributions made to PPF should be used to help meet this overspend. This is entirely permissible. Peter Hain has accepted that these contributions to Hain4Labour were not reported in a timely fashion.
"I can confirm that, as several of these donors have now said publicly, they were content for their contributions to PPF subsequently to be donated to Peter Hain's campaign and I understand that accordingly their names were reported to the Electoral Commission."
One of the donors who gave cash through PPF was Willie Nagel, a diamond dealer, who had previously been approached by Underwood to give money to the campaign, but had said he would only do so if his name was kept private.

On July 9 Nagel gave a £5,000 donation and on October 10 a £25,000 three- month interest-free loan to the PPF that was then transferred to the Hain campaign.

A statement by his solicitors, Ashurst LLP, said: "Mr Nagel donated and loaned money to PPF and had no objection that this money be used to support Peter Hain's campaign."
It added that Nagel, 83, had known Hain since they worked together on establishing the Kimberley Process to stem the flow of "blood diamonds" in Africa in 2000 and respected his activities "both nationally and internationally".[4]

Christopher Campbell (aged 72) former chairman of British Shipbuilders, donated the sum of £1,990 to the PPF. The Sunday Times reports that Campbell 'believed he had been approached by Steve Morgan, Hain's campaign director, in June about giving funds to the PPF'[5]. By early July, he had been asked if the funds could be transferred to the Hain campaign.

Contact

The PPF's address is listed at McEwen's chambers in central London[6] at the office of solicitors McEwen Parkinson in Wimpole Street. The firms partner Gregory McEwen is the same Gregory McEwan who is listed as the PPF's sole Director[7]



References

  1. Donations Row: Hain Vows To Stay, Sky, 12 January 2008.
  2. Brady, B. (2008) 'Mystery of the think tank that keeps its thoughts to itself'. The Independent on Sunday. 13th January 2008
  3. Brady, B. (2008) 'I've done nothing wrong,' Peter Hain insists, as he battles for his political lifeThe Independent 13th January 2008. Accessed 4th April 2008
  4. Patrick Wintour and David Hencke Questions over 'thinktank' pile pressure on Hain Body that paid thousands to minister's campaign 'has never held meeting' Saturday January 12, 2008 The Guardian
  5. Oakeshott, I. & Cracknell, D. (2008) 'Is it all over for Peter Hain' Sunday Times 13th January 2008
  6. Doward, J. & Quinn, B. (2008) 'Think tank' that fuelled Hain's bid: Westminster's sharks scent blood amid fresh revelations of donations to a minister's election campaign' The Observer 13th January 2008
  7. Brogan, B. & Gysin, C. (2008) Hain faces sack in sleaze inquiry; He could be barred - but Brown might fire him first. The Daily Mail (London). 12th January 2008