MICHAEL Brown, the convicted fraudster, who spent years on the run and then years behind bars, says the “stupidest” thing he ever did was donate £2.4 million of stolen money to the Liberal Democrats.

The 53-year-old Scot handed over what is the largest gift the party has ever received in 2005 after being impressed by the Lib Dems’ then leader, Charles Kennedy, and in a desire to level the playing field in that year’s General Election.

The former inmate, who now goes under the name of Michael Campbell-Brown, told the BBC he now deeply regretted the controversial donation because it led to an "onslaught of recognition".

He explained: “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."

Mr Campbell-Brown was jailed for perjury a year after donating to the Lib Dems.

A self-confessed Walter Mitty character, he falsely claimed to have been educated at Gordonstoun and St Andrews and to have been the son of a lord.

After the Glaswegian-born financier was released, having served a 12-month stretch, he was charged with further offences, which related to the theft of an investment of almost £8 million from Martin Edwards, the former Manchester United Chairman.

But while on bail awaiting trial, he took a taxi to Gatwick Airport and, using a false passport, flew to the Dominican Republic under a false name.

He stayed beyond justice for four years but, in his absence, was found guilty of theft, providing false information and perverting the course of justice.

The court heard he had secretly used cash from investors to fund the Lib Dem donation as well as an "extravagant" lifestyle.

He eventually returned to the UK to serve half of a seven-and-a-half year prison sentence.

Mr Campbell-Brown admitted: "My greed got the better of me," stressing he was "horrendously sorry" for what he did to Mr Edwards.

The Scot is now employed by outsourcing giant Serco, which runs six prisons in England and Scotland, to improve procedures in the first days after offenders are locked up, when they are most vulnerable and at risk of suicide.

As for that infamous donation made via his firm Fifth Avenue Partners, Mr Campbell-Brown argued the Lib Dems should have rejected it.

"They should have said to me: 'But Michael, you don't live in the UK, you're not registered on the voters' roll, your company was only born six months ago; really sorry Michael, thanks for coming but no thanks.'

"That's what they should have done but, of course, the pound signs tend to obscure absolutely everything else."

Although the party faced calls to return the gift, it kept it after the Electoral Commission, the elections watchdog, concluded the payment had been accepted in good faith.

Mr Campbell-Brown insisted he no longer supported the party because of the way, he claimed, it had treated Mr Kennedy, who died in 2015 after losing his Highland seat.

"They drove him out...because he was an alcoholic. That person then dies an early death. I'm sorry, you're responsible for that," he added.

A Lib Dem source said the party would not "dignify" the claim with a response.