Met Police urged to launch 'cash for honours' investigation amid fresh scrutiny of Conservative peerages

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The Metropolitan Police have been urged to launch a "cash for honours" investigation following fresh scrutiny of the Conservative Party's award of peerages.

A Sunday Times report showed 15 of the last 16 of the Conservative Party's treasurers have been offered a seat in the House of Lords having each donated more than £3m to the Tories.

They include Lord Cruddas, who took his seat after Prime Minister Boris Johnson rejected the advice of the House of Lords Appointments Commission not to grant him a peerage.

An ex-party chairman was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "The truth is the entire political establishment knows this happens and they do nothing about it… The most telling line is, once you pay your £3m, you get your peerage."

Cabinet minister George Eustice on Sunday defended the Tories' award of peerages to former party treasurers and Conservative donors and said they provide "valuable" expertise to the House of Lords.

"They are philanthropists who give huge amounts to charity, who have been very successful in business and, therefore, on those grounds ought to be considered for the Lords," he told BBC's Andrew Marr Show.

"In addition, the fact that they have been engaged with political parties - whether that's Labour or the Conservative Party - people like that have an interest in politics, they are philanthropists, they have made a great contribution to public life and, in many cases, they have got an expertise in business that is valuable to the House of Lords."

But opposition parties have seized on the newspaper report to put further pressure on the government in the wake of the Owen Paterson lobbying scandal.

SNP MP Pete Wishart said: "The Tory corruption scandal is growing worse by the day. It's now beyond all doubt that the honours system has been abused by the Tories.

"The Metropolitan Police should launch a fresh cash for honours investigation to determine whether a criminal offence has been committed.

"It is utterly appalling that so many millionaire Tory party donors have been handed life peerages by Boris Johnson and his predecessors."

Mr Wishart, whose party refuses to nominate people to be members of the House of Lords, also accused other parties beside the Tories of "dishing out peerages to donors as though they were sweeties".
"It is corruption plain and simple - and it absolutely stinks," he added.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds said it was "now clear that the cash for access culture at the heart of this Conservative government stems from the top and reaches through every sinew of the prime minister's party".

"This stench of sleaze emanating from Boris Johnson's government grows by the day, with even a former Conservative prime minister [John Major] calling his administration 'politically corrupt'," she added.

Labour have also demanded that the prime minister rule out Mr Paterson, who resigned in a wake of a row over his lobbying for two private companies, being given a peerage in future.

In a letter to Lord Bew, the chair of the House of Lords Appointments Commission, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer asked whether he agreed that "anyone found to have egregiously breached standards leading to a suspension from parliament would be an inappropriate nominee for a peerage".

Sir Keir added that awarding Mr Paterson a peerage would "undermine confidence in the probity of parliament".

In response to the Sunday Times report, a Conservative spokesman told the newspaper: "We do not believe that successful business people and philanthropists who contribute to political causes and parties should be disqualified from sitting in the legislature."

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