A notorious conman who donated £2.4million of stolen funds to the Liberal Democrats has said it was the ‘stupidest’ thing he has ever done – as he breaks his silence after 12 years.
Michael Brown’s huge contribution was the biggest in the party’s history during the 2005 General Election, but he was caged in 2006 for perjury before fleeing to the Caribbean.
The 53-year-old crook, who now goes by the name Michael Campbell-Brown, said he regrets the donation due to an ‘onslaught of recognition’.
Michael Brown’s (pictured) huge contribution was the biggest in the party’s history during the 2005 General Election, but he was caged in 2006 for perjury before fleeing to the Caribbean
He told the BBC: ‘I feel bad because giving the money brought me to the forefront… and caused an enormous amount of pain on my family.
‘I broke the law and deserve the pain that I got – my family never deserved that.’
The 53-year-old crook, who now goes by the name Michael Campbell-Brown, said he regrets the donation due to an ‘onslaught of recognition’
But he insisted the sum – made through his firm Fifth Avenue Partners Ltd – should have been rejected by the party.
Brown, who falsely claimed to have been educated at Gordonstoun and St Andrews, and to have been the son of a lord, was one of Britain’s most audacious fraudsters.
To boost his status, the smooth-talking Glaswegian – who also boasted that he had links to the US secret service – handed the Lib Dems a record donation to fund their 2005 general election campaign and whisked then party leader Charles Kennedy and other grandees around the country in a private jet.
But it later emerged Brown had accrued his enormous wealth by conning huge sums out of trusting investors including former Manchester United chairman Martin Edwards, who lost £5million.
Brown was nicknamed the ‘Lib Dem Ronnie Biggs’ after jumping bail in London in 2008 to escape charges involving £36million in swindled funds.
He was on the run for more than three years before being held in the Dominican Republic and was returned to the UK to serve seven-and-a-half years in jail.
He was on the run for more than three years before being held in the Dominican Republic (pictured right) and was returned to the UK to serve seven-and-a-half years in jail
Brown was released in January 2016 halfway through his prison sentence and, after probation, moved to Majorca where he had been living in luxury with his wife Sharon at their £750,000 ‘winter villa’ overlooking mountains in Esporles, Spain.
After his release, he also worked for G4S, the security firm which managed four jails.
He provided advice on prisoner inductions and self-harm, and was cleared to roam HMP Rye Hill in Warwickshire.
He provided advice on prisoner inductions and self-harm, and was cleared to roam HMP Rye Hill (pictured) in Warwickshire
A high-security category B jail, it was home to hundreds of convicted sex offenders serving long sentences.
But this stopped last year when Spanish authorities looked into him on money laundering charges.
It is unclear if any investigations are ongoing.
The former financier is now working for outsourcing giant Serco and advises new prisoners on adapting to life locked up in a bid to prevent suicides.
He said: ‘When a prisoner comes off that bus, he’s nervous beyond belief and he does not know what is going to happen in the next four or five hours of his life – or the next four or five days.’
Brown said during his first, 12-month, stint in jail he saw inmates self-harming and said he was ‘absolutely petrified’.
On his reasons for the con, he added that he had a desire to be rich and to impress people, thinking he would gain respect for being a ‘larger-than-life character’.
He said ‘my greed got the better of me’, and he was ‘horrendously sorry’ for conning Mr Edwards.
The Liberal Democrats have faced criticism for not returning the money but the Electoral Commission found they had accepted it in good faith and not broken parliamentary rules.
Brown does not support the party anymore as he feels former leader Mr Kennedy was forced out unfairly after concerns were raised over his drinking.
The Liberal Democrats have not commented on his accusation.