DIARY: APCO and Citigate PA 'donations' raise eyebrows

The Labour Party was this week trying to remove two lobbying firms' entries from the Electoral Commission's latest list of party donors.

The presence of APCO and Citigate PA alongside controversial steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal is certainly an eyebrow-raiser. APCO was listed as paying £6,000 on 14 November last year, while Citigate was said to have paid two separate sums of £4,000 and £12,161, both on 23 December.

But according to a Labour spokesman, APCO's entry and Citigate's £12,161 should not have been on the list. The spokesman said APCO's entry was 'an admin error'. It was paid by APCO on behalf of Airtours for a reception the client held at last year's party conference.

Citigate MD Warwick Smith is happy for its £4,000 entry - for a table at a conference event - to remain. But the larger sum - for clients' attendance at one of the famed 'corporate days' - is something both Smith and Labour claim should have been listed as a commercial activity, not a donation.

Fingers are crossed in the lobbying world that Smith's clients have no Romanian connection - and that Blair doesn't switch tour operators for his next Tuscan jolly.

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