Labour MPs defend accepting tens of thousands from little-known company

Wes Streeting, Dan Jarvis and Yvette Cooper received donations from MPM Connect, which has no obvious line of business

Labour MPs have defended taking money from a little-known company that has emerged as one of Westminster’s biggest political donors.

Wes Streeting, Dan Jarvis and Yvette Cooper have all said they did nothing wrong by accepting tens of thousands of pounds from MPM Connect, which is part-owned by Peter Hearn, a Labour donor, but does not have any obvious line of business.

MPM Connect was revealed by Sky News and Tortoise on Monday to be one of two almost completely unknown companies to have donated large sums of money to MPs in recent years. The other is IX Wireless, which has donated more than £100,000 to Conservative MPs since 2019.

All three Labour MPs released similarly worded statements on Monday defending the donations, pointing out they had been reported to parliamentary authorities. Jarvis and Streeting called MPM Connect an “investment company in the employment sector” – although the company has no website and did not respond to media inquiries about its investments.

MPM did not respond to requests to comment. Lincoln Brown, an accountancy firm that shares the same registered address, refused to comment.

Jarvis and Cooper said MPM was registered at its accountants’ address. However, when Sky News visited that address, a person there claimed not to have heard of the company.

IX Wireless has also come under the spotlight for donating more than £138,000 to 24 Tory MPs since 2019.

The company builds communication infrastructure such as mobile telephone masts and is registered in Blackburn. It is controlled by another company known as Cohiba Communications, of which the Conservative peer James Wharton is a director.

The company has been involved in local disputes in the past over its developments, including in Hyndburn, Lancashire, where a residents’ committee protested against its “unnecessary” plans to build masts in the town.

The company concentrated its donations on a group of northern Conservative MPs, many of them based in constituencies close to where it builds its networks.

Christian Wakeford, the Bury South MP who defected to Labour last year, told Tortoise he had been asked by Jake Berry, the Conservative party chair at the time, to write a proposal to accept funding from IX Wireless. The money came through a month later, he said, even though he had never previously heard of the company.

“The first I ever heard of IX Wireless is when I was told: ‘This is something you need to put on the register of interests for compliance purposes’ – that was all I ever heard of them,” Wakeford said.

Neither IX Wireless nor Berry responded to requests to comment.

Richard Murphy, a political and economic campaigner, said: “There is no reason we should let this degree of opacity cloud something which should require total transparency. The answer to this is: don’t let corporate donations happen.”


Kiran Stacey and Rowena Mason

The GuardianTramp

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