Lib Dems given cash "stolen" from Martin Edwards

Former Manchester United chairman and chief executive Martin Edwards was inadvertently one of the Liberal Democrats' biggest donors before the 2005 general election – after a Scottish investor fraudulently used money invested by Edwards and donated some to the political party, a court heard yesterday. Michael Brown is alleged to have conned clients including Edwards into investing in his London-based bond-trading business – before using the cash to fund a lifestyle lavish enough for United's highest earners, with enough money left to fund a political party. It's claimed that the 42-year-old Glaswegian used some of the money to buy himself every self-respecting Premier League star's favourite run-around – a Range Rover with personalised number plates – as well as a villa in Majorca and a £2 million private jet. The court heard that Edwards, who left the United board in 2003, first met Brown in February 2005 and agreed to invest £6.5 million in Brown's venture. In 2005 Brown donated £2.3 million to the Lib Dems, at the time led by fellow Scot Charles Kennedy. It was the biggest donation in the party's history. Brown is accused of nine charges, including fraud and money-laundering. He denies all the charges, and the case continues.