Tom Watson caught in Max Mosley cash row

By Alex Ross | Politics | Published:

Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson has been accused of clinging on to ‘dirty money’ donated by disgraced tycoon Max Mosley.

Max Mosley, and right, Tom Watson

The West Bromwich East MP has received more than £500,000 in donations from the ex-Formula 1 boss since 2015.

Mosley, son of fascist leader Oswald Mosley, is back in the spotlight after a racist leaflet he published in the 1960s came to light.

The leaflet, uncovered by the Daily Mail, said ‘coloured immigrants’ threatened children’s health, bringing tuberculosis, venereal disease and leprosy.

It was published as election material for Union Movement candidate Walter Hesketh.

Mr Watson said the views expressed by Mr Mosley when the leaflet was published in 1961 were not the same today.

However, Mosley has defended Hesketh and described him as ‘a very decent person’ and appeared to question whether it was racist at all.

Last night, Labour announced it would not be accepting any more donations from Mosley, who bankrolls the much-criticised press regulator Impress.

However, Mr Watson has not yet said whether he would be returning any of the money he has received.


Mr Watson received three donations from Mosley over the past three years – £40,000 in August 2015, £200,000 in June 2016 and £300,000 in February last year.

Labour says it will no longer accept donations from Mosley and will review its policy on donations from individuals.

Dudley South MP Mike Wood criticised Mr Watson, calling the series of three donations ‘dirty money’, and accusing the Labour Party of ‘rank hypocrisy’.

But Mr Watson, who has long campaigned alongside Mosley for a stricter regulation of the press, said: “The views expressed by Max as a young man are not the views he holds now, just as the Rothermere family [owners of the Daily Mail] no longer uses its newspapers to support fascism.”


A Labour spokesman said: “The leaflets published by Max Mosley in the early 1960s were utterly repugnant but they were a long time ago and people obviously change their views.

“But the Labour Party has moved away from largescale donations from wealthy individuals and we are heavily funded by our members, our affiliated organisations and by a very large number of small donations.

"There won’t be any more contributions from Max Mosley.”

A spokesman for Jeremy Corbyn said National Executive Committee and Mr Corbyn’s office would assess the ethics and appropriateness of any donations from wealthy individuals.

This was welcomed by West Bromwich West MP Adrian Bailey.

He said: “I would welcome the NEC of the Labour Party drawing up a list of guidelines on donations. It seems this has not been done.”

On pressure for Mr Watson to return the money from Mr Mosley, he added: “I’ll leave that decision to the leader and NEC.”

But Dudley South MP, Mr Wood said: “There is a rank hypocrisy in this given everything said in recent months.”

He added: “It was a massive misjudgement for the Labour Party and shadow cabinet members to accept large amounts of money from him. This is dirty money so hanging onto it reflects very badly on them.”

Alex Ross

By Alex Ross
Investigations Editor - @alexross_star

Investigations Editor at the Express & Star. Everyone has a story - tell me yours.

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