Legal status of Newly formed Independent Group means they can flout electoral law

The Independent Group, formed out of a Labour Party split earlier today that led to 7 MPs resigning the Whip, is officially listed as a Private Company and not a political party, it has been found.

The Independent Group is not a UK listed Political Party, nor is it officially listed as a Political Party, and it was found today, hours after the group’s launch, that the website for the Independent Group is based in a Panamanian domain.

Panama is a well-known “tax haven” for private companies who wish to avoid being taxed by the higher tax rates of Western Countries. Private organisations will often set up companies or domains in the nation in an effort to benefit from the more lax policies and laws that the Panamanian government enforces.

It was also found that the Independent Group’s funding is being managed by a subsidiary Company that has a listing within the United Kingdom, called Gemini A Ltd. Gemini A’s sole registered officer, who owns an over 75% stake in the company and full directorial rights over the company, including its finances, is one of the 7 rebel MPs, Gavin Shuker.

Current electoral law requires all Political Parties to provide the full details and the names of all financial backers and donors for public consumption. Private Companies are not required to provide details of their financial backers and theoretically are not required to publish any information on donations they receive.

The Independent Group are not an official Political Party, as all 7 of the MPs who resigned the whip has announced they will remain as Independents, a term used for MPs who have no alignment with a Political Party.

While it is not unheard of for MPs to resign from their political parties to form new parties due to ideological differences, no group  of MPs this large have resigned expressly to reside as Independent MPs with policies reminiscent of those of New Labour in the late 1990s. This means that any donations to the group will actually be donations to The Independent Group as a company, and then subsequently funding into Gemini A Ltd, meaning there is no requirement to provide details on the size or nature of funds going into the Independent Group under electoral law. New Labour had similar issues with transparency when it came to corporate political party funding, after it was only found that Bernie Ecclestone, the CEO of Formula 1, had donated £1 million to New Labour during their election campaign after New Labour declared Formula 1 exempt from their campaign manifesto promise to ban tobacco product advertising, sparking media fury. Now that a new enclave of Labour politicians with very similar ideologies of big business support, service privatisation, and free-market renewal fully refuse to disclose their donations being memories reminiscent of new funding scandals in waiting.

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