Hain says he is not resigning

 

Work and Pension Secretary Peter Hain, embroiled in a row over political funding, said yesterday there had been no attempt at a cover-up of donations and he would not resign.

In a case that has embarrassed the Labour government, Mr Hain failed to declare 103,000 pounds of political donations.

"The notion that there was some attempt by me to hide anything is absurd," said Mr Hain, who used the money -- plus 82,000 pounds that he did declare -- to finance an unsuccessful bid last year to become deputy leader of the Labour party.

The Hain case follows a party funding scandal and a string of government administrative blunders that have damaged the Labour party and left it trailing the Conservatives in opinion polls.

In a statement to reporters, Mr Hain said "poor administration" by his campaign team was to blame for the failure to declare the cash, and said he was happy for parliamentary inquiries into the donations to take their course.

"Meanwhile I will get on with my cabinet jobs," he added.

Pressure mounted on Mr Hain after Conservative deputy David Davies made an official complaint on Friday to parliament's sleaze watchdog, the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards, that there had been a "very clear breach of the rules."

Mr Hain said in November that he had failed to register a 5,000-pound donation to his deputy leadership campaign because of an administrative error.