MARCH 9, 1998
Bernie takes his million
THE British Labour Party has revealed that F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone has cashed the £1 million cheque which was returned to him in November last year following a political scandal in Britain. Labour decided to return the donation - made by Ecclestone in January 1997 - to avoid any suggestions that the money was behind British Prime Minister Tony Blair's decision to support an exemption from a ban on tobacco advertising for Grand Prix racing. Ecclestone had said that he did not want the money back and there had been suggestions from the Labour Party that it would go to charity.
Professor Gordon McVie of the Cancer Research Campaign condemned Ecclestone's decision to keep his money. "It just underlines the fact that he was intent on improving his business by giving the million in the first place," he said.
Ecclestone himself says that he has been unfairly treated by the Labour Party. "What happened was grossly unfair," he said, "It was badly handled by the Labour Party. They should have either said they were not prepared to disclose donations or give details about who had donated what over the last five years. They were wrongly advised and then they were stupid to go and ask somebody: "Do you think we ought to give the money back? It was completely crazy. They reacted to the press, which was working on disinformation in the first place."
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