Sir Gulam Noon appointed assistant treasurer of Labour party



 Sir Gulam Noon appointed assistant treasurer of Labour party London: Britain's prominent Indian-origin businessman Sir Gulam Noon, who is also known as curry king, has been appointed an assistant treasurer of the Labour party.

74-year-old Mumbai-born Noon has donated 200,000 pounds and raised another 250,000 pounds from other Muslim businessmen since taking up the post a month ago.

"I have decided to help the Labour party wholeheartedly and I would like all to come to the aid of the party at this critical juncture," Noon told a news agency.

Noon said he was approached last month by Ray Collins, Labour's general secretary, and asked to take up the new role.

"I have always been a Labour supporter and wanted to ensure that Gordon Brown was given an opportunity to finish off the job that we started under Tony Blair so I accepted Ray's invitation," he said.

He decided to give up his favourable Non-Dom (Non-Domicile) tax status - to which he was entitled because he was born in India - so that he could join the campaign without causing embarrassment to the party.

"This country has been very good to me. I am no longer a non-dom so I can take up a fuller role in its political and commercial life," he said.

He is one of four people who sit on Labour's board of assistant treasurers which was established last September to raise funds for the party.

The other members are Jack Dromey, the party's lay treasurer, Nigel Doughty, founder of an equity firm, and Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary.

Sir Noon said he has raised the money from 10 Muslim businessmen, and is planning to raise another 50,000 pounds by the end of the month.

Quoting labour insiders, The Guardian today said that the party is still "quite a few million" short of the 18 million pounds maximum that can be spent on the general election campaign.

The Tories are understood to have raised more than they can spend.

Noon has given nearly 700,000 pounds to Labour over the last 10 years but has not given a donation of more than 5,000 pounds since the last election.

He was questioned under caution by police in 2005 as part of Scotland Yard's investigation into the alleged sale of honours in exchange for loans towards Labour's last general election campaign.

It emerged that he had secretly lent 250,000 pounds to Labour weeks before he was nominated by Tony Blair for a peerage.

At the time he maintained that he was told by a senior Labour official not to declare the donation on a form submitted to the House of Lords authorities and was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.

Sir Noon said he has since discussed the so-called "cash-for honours" affair with Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, and said that both had regretted the way his name had been dragged into the inquiry.

"The last prime minister and the present prime minister have both said to me that I was not treated well during the cash for honours affair. But I did not blame anyone and I kept my counsel," he said.

PTI