Published: 16:30, 27 February 2017
A Labour councillor sold cosmetics meant to benefit the homeless and disadvantaged to charity to raise money for her election campaign instead.
Karen Constantine, who is already a Thanet councillor and is standing in May's county council election, raised more than £400 in a table top sale of Lush cosmetics and other beauty products that were supposed to have been handed directly to charities serving the homeless, vulnerable and disadvantaged.
Instead, the cosmetics were sold to fund Labour’s county council election campaign for candidates in South Thanet.
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Under election law, charities are not usually considered as permissible donors.
There is no suggestion that Lush was aware of what happened and its website makes clear that anything it donates should not be resold or raffled as prizes.
The chain of events began when a charity called The Kindness Offensive was offered a 100-tonne consignment of Lush products.
It gave the products to 38 charities, including Food For All. A charity shop run by Food for All offered some to Karen Constantine and her agent Kaz Peet, who then collected them from London.
Postings on Facebook by Karen Constantine and Kaz Peet then advertised the table sale taking place at a Ramsgate pub on February 18 - making it clear the money made would go towards the Labour party’s campaign costs.
In one, Cllr Constantine said: “Don't forget the Lush for Labour sale at Churchills! 2pm today. Absolute bargains to be had - there has never been a better time to buy a bath bomb!!!”
In another, Kaz Peet posted: “Many serious bargains to be had at the sale of Lush products - this afternoon at Churchills - all funds to the Labour party KCC campaign.”
Cllr Constantine told the KM Group she acted to rectify the situation as soon as she was aware of it but had not known that she could be in breach of electoral law.
"I am sorry that this happened and unreservedly apologise" - Karen Constantine
“We made a mistake. I was absolutely unaware of any issue that could cause problems. As soon as I found out, we arranged for the proceeds to go to charity," she said.
In a statement, she added: “I fully apologise for not knowing the election funding laws regarding charities.
"Once the law was made clear to me and I realised there was a mistake I took immediate steps to ensure monies raised - £415 - were donated to local charities. I am sorry that this happened and unreservedly apologise. This will not happen again."
David Goodfellow of The Kindness Offensive said: “There has clearly been a mistake here. We make it very clear that anything we donate is used for people in desperate, desperate need. I am a bit surprised as it is made abundantly clear that these should go to the end user.”
It is understood that party officials in Ramsgate are due to meet tonight to discuss the issue.
Food For All has been approached for a comment.