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Generalissimo Blairo 'fesses up on loans

Two IT chiefs among loans-for-lordships scandal

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The executive chairman of Capita and a boss of London Bridge software are among those named today for lending the Labour Party some £14m.

Because the money was lent, rather than donated, it was free of the usual rules governing donations. The banana republic behaviour was kept secret from the party treasurer Jack Dromey - he launched a furious attack on Blair and "Number Ten" last week.

Rod Aldridge's donation, although private, has been singled out because Capita runs dozens of big public sector IT projects. It provides the technology to collect the London congestion charge, runs IT services for 21 local authorities, and has re-tendered for a £120m contract with the DTI. Aldridge, who is an OBE, has said the loan was personal and he expected to receive commercial rates of interest when it was repaid.

Gordon Crawford, chairman of London Bridge Software, is the other IT figure named - he lent the party £500,000.

Science minister Lord Sainsbury has also been named - he lent the party £2m. Tory Treasurer Jonathan Marland, interviewed on Newsnight, refused to name the people his party borrowed money from. The Tories are believed to have borrowed as much as £20m.

General Blairo came to power on an anti-corruption ticket in 1997. Since then, with the help of Tessa Jowell and others, he has reclaimed sleaze, which was the birthright of dishonest Tories.

Funding of political parties will now be investigated by Sir Hayden Philips, which could lead to some state funding. The party's National Executive is also meeting to discuss the matter.

More from the BBC here and the FT here. ®

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