Financial scandal hits LGBT Labour as treasurer accepts liability for thousands in missing donations
Labour’s LGBT group has been left struggling for cash after thousands disappeared from one of its bank accounts.
More than £5,000 has been lost from the group’s PayPal account, with auditors forced to call in legal advice in a bid to find the funds.
The missing money could damage Labour’s attempts to elect LGBT MPs in June’s snap election, with polls predicting several of the party’s gay and bi politicians could lose their seats.
LGBT Labour’s former treasurer, Josie Runswick (née Cartwight), has accepted liability for losing the money but proved unable to fully explain its disappearance.
Remarkably, she ran for co-chair of the organisation after the funds went missing, backed by the Corbyn supporting United Left in the election.
According to an auditor’s report, £3,400 was transferred from LGBT Labour’s account to a PayPal named Cartwright Cards, a personal account of the treasurer, on 5 February 2017.
There were also payments totalling £3,000 in August 2016 to the same PayPal account.
When confronted about this missing money, Ms Runswick claimed the money was “to cover expenses”, and subsequently repaid £3,400 to the group.
Despite repeat requests from the group’s co-chair she was unable to offer receipts for the rest of the missing money.
Ms Runswick, who got married last summer, reported that she had moved the money to a wrong account by mistake, claiming to have hit the number nine, instead of six, when transferring £3,000.
However, the account number the treasurer claimed to have sent the money to appears to not exist.
The final digit of a UK bank account number is also a check digit, meaning no two account numbers with the same sort code can be only one digit different from each other.
LGBT Labour bosses then discovered an additional £2,358 had been transferred from their account to Cartwright Cards earlier in 2016, leaving the group £5,358 down.
They were forced to seek legal advice against their ex-treasurer, who subsequently agreed to pay £558 upfront.
She has since agreed to pay the remaining balance in £100 monthly instalments – meaning the full sum won’t be returned until mid-2021.
Ms Runswick has deleted all of her social media profiles, but in an email to PinkNews she apologised for the lost funds.
She told PinkNews: “I would like to apologise to both LGBT Labour and its membership for my actions, and promise that I will make up for them.
“I am particularly sorry that this has affected our election period.
“I would also like to apologise to my wife and family who I hid the problems from.”
Katie Hanson, who undertook the audit, told PinkNews: “In the run up to our AGM it became clear that funds appeared to be missing.
“We looked into the issue and the auditors agreed to investigate and to report back within three months, which we have done.
“We have taken all steps to recover the members’ money, and we are pleased it was not necessary to go to court.”
The auditor added that they have been unable to identify if the money was for legitimate purposes, as no receipts or other documents have been provided.