William Hague’s office has kindly emailed to deny that it hosted the New York launch of his biography of William Wilberforce. I had asked Hague to explain why he had failed to declare the sponsorship in the House of Commons’ Register of Members Financial Interests.
Here’s how the Atlantic Bridge used to describe the event on its website:
‘The Atlantic Bridge is proud to host an evening with William Hague – the shadow foreign secretary of the British Parliament – to celebrate his latest literary achievement, a major biography of the abolitionist William Wilberforce.’
Mr Hague’s personal assistant has written that no declaration was made as no fee was paid. Yet it is clear that Hague benefitted from the promotion of his book and he would he have been best advised to declare the sponsorship.
His PA, clearly not worried that the Charity Commission is investigating allegations that the Atlantic Bridge is party political, retorts: ‘Mr Hague was in New York to undertake some engagements in connection with the publication of his book in the US and Atlantic Bridge, given its links with the Conservative Party, asked Mr Hague if he could address one of their events.’
The Atlantic Bridge operates two charities, one in the UK and one in the USA, and William Hague has refused to confirm which paid this sponsorship (although it does not appear in the UK accounts). US law forbids, ‘any person… in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the organization’ from benefiting from its largesse. William Hague is a member of the Atlantic Bridge Advisory Board.
Posts on the Atlantic Bridge are collected here.