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Corbyn's Leadership Campaign Borrows £125,000 From Unite And Momentum

The Labour leader's fundraising has hugely outstripped that of his rival – but most of Jeremy Corbyn's donations have been given as interest-free loans.

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Jeremy Corbyn has raised more than £163,000 for his bid to retain the leadership of the Labour party, parliamentary declarations have revealed.

Unite, the UK's largest union, has given the Corbyn campaign a total of £75,000 in "indefinite", "interest-free" loans, as well as providing serviced offices worth £6,000.

Momentum, the movement that grew out of Corbyn's successful leadership contest last year, loaned the Labour leader a further £50,000 on the same terms. One of the official entities behind Momentum renamed itself Jeremy for Labour Ltd early in the contest.

The Unite donations are likely to spark controversy within Labour following an earlier row after reports in July that the union intended to spend £250,000 supporting Corbyn's re-election bid. The union's general secretary Len McCluskey wrote a piece for the Huffington Post accusing Labour's deputy leader Tom Watson of spreading misinformation.

"Tom also invents a fictitious £250,000 which Unite is supposed to be donating to Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign," he wrote. "Nothing like that sum has been agreed by the union, nor even requested. It is a made-up figure bearing no relationship to reality."

At the time of McCluskey's article, the union had loaned the smaller sum of £25,000, with a further £50,000 loan in August.

BuzzFeed News has contacted the Corbyn campaign to ask why the £125,000 contributions were taken as loans rather than standard donations.

"That is a question for Unite and Momentum, or any organisation that provided a loan," said a spokesman. "In all likelihood it was provided in that way as it is quicker to process their end. Once the campaign is over, any loans that are written off are declared as a donation."

Jeremy Corbyn also received contributions from a number of other unions, including staff time worth £7,874 and office space worth £2,925 from the TSSA union, £15,000 from the fire brigade union – which reaffiliated to Labour last year following Corbyn's victory – and a further £7,000 personal donation from its general secretary.

In total, the Corbyn campaign has raised just over £163,000 in contributions.

This is close to double the total amount raised by Corbyn's rival for the leadership, former shadow work and pensions secretary Owen Smith.

Smith's campaign received an in-kind contribution of £6,000 from a coach company in his constituency for contact lists, and a secondment of a staff member from Quatro Public Relations worth a further £9,654.

Smith's biggest contributor by far, though, was the LGBT entrepreneur and long-time Labour donor Anthony Watson, who was appointed as Labour's "business tsar" in February. Watson contributed £67,550 towards "paying the rental, phone and internet costs of an office", Smith's parliamentary declaration declares.

Voting is underway in the leadership contest, which Corbyn is widely expected to win. The result will be announced on 24 September.

James Ball is a special correspondent for BuzzFeed News and is based in London. PGP: here

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