Recruitment mogul emerges as biggest donor to UK Labour party

A recruitment mogul called Peter Hearn has emerged as one of the UK opposition Labour party’s most generous donors, linked to more than £1mn of donations over the past decade, most recently through a corporate vehicle with no website.

From 2014 Hearn has been a consistent donor to Labour, making gifts both to the central party and to some of its prominent MPs.

Hearn, who made his fortune in the recruitment industry through companies including PSD and Odgers Berndtson, last gave money as an individual in 2019, with donations to prominent Labour MPs Wes Streeting, Yvette Cooper and Dan Jarvis.

Since then he has switched to making donations through a company called MPM Connect, of which he is a director alongside Simon Murphy, the entrepreneur behind the redevelopment of London’s Battersea Power Station.

Labour has made a virtue of the fact that it is now raising more money from business people than at any time since it was last in power, reflecting the pro-business stance of leader, Keir Starmer.

Private donations to the party last autumn included £500,000 from Francesca Perrin, daughter of Lord Sainsbury, former chair of the eponymous supermarket chain, and £50,000 from a former Conservative donor called Gareth Quarry.

MPM Connect has no website and its accounts published at Companies House, Britain’s corporate register, do not say where its funding comes from or what it actually does. The company’s last set of annual accounts state that it has “nil” employees.

Cooper, the shadow home secretary, has received £184,317 from MPM during the current parliament, which began in 2019, according to the “Westminster Accounts”, a new searchable database of MPs’ outside earnings and donations set up by Sky News and Tortoise Media.

Streeting, the shadow health secretary, has received £60,000 from the company, while Jarvis, the former mayor of South Yorkshire, has received £100,000.

The total of £344,317 makes MPM Connect one of the largest donors to individual MPs.

Hearn previously gave over £844,000 in a personal capacity to the Labour party and to individual Labour MPs between 2014 and 2019.

Rishi Sunak, the prime minister, asked on Monday whether it was right that “companies that don’t seem to exist” could donate to MPs, adding that he was in favour of transparency. “It’s absolutely right that there’s disclosures around donations and outside interests. Transparency is a good thing. I fully support it,” he said.

A spokesperson for Cooper said the donation was “fully declared and compliant with all the rules” and MPM Connect was registered to the office of its accountants.

“MPM Connect is an investment company in the employment sector owned by Peter Hearn, a UK businessman and long standing Labour supporter, and as has been reported many times, Mr Hearn kindly donates money to fund Yvette’s office staff and has done so for many years,” they said.

“It has all been fully declared and compliant with all the rules. Like lots of companies, MPM Connect is registered to their accountants office, as is made very clear in its Companies House entry.”

A spokesperson for Streeting said: “Peter kindly funds staff for Wes’s office. Wes is proud to have successful business people supporting the Labour party in our campaign to win the next election and give Britain the fresh start it deserves. This has been declared in the proper way in accordance with the rules.”

Jarvis said the money had supported the running of his offices and had been fully registered with the Commons authorities. “Details regarding MPM Connect, an investment company in the employment sector and its director Peter Hearn, a UK businessman and very longstanding Labour supporter, are available on Companies House. The address listed is that of MPM Connect’s accountants.”

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