Police asked to investigate ‘cash for honours’ claims over Tory peer selections

·3-min read

Police have been asked to investigate “cash for honours” allegations linked to Conservative Party peerage appointments to the House of Lords.

SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart has written to Metropolitan Police Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to raise “potential criminal misconduct regarding the procurement of honours and membership of the House of Lords”.

He wants the probe to focus on an Open Democracy and Sunday Times investigation which, among other claims, found nine of the party’s former treasures have been elevated to the House of Lords since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010.

In his letter, Mr Wishart added: “In total, 22 of the Conservative Party’s biggest financial contributors have been made members of the House of Lords in the past 11 years.

“Together they have donated some £54 million to the Tories.

“I believe that it is only right to investigate whether these donations were, in fact, rewarded with honours.”

The Tories have denied any link between the donations and the nominations to sit in the Lords.

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Wishart said: “The true shocker of the past couple of days is cash for honours 2.0

“I really didn’t think that following Tony Blair being questioned under caution by the Metropolitan Police 15 years ago we’d be back to this place so quickly.

“That was only a couple of parliaments ago that Tony Blair had to face questions about donations to the House of Lords.

“The only difference I’ve seen in the course of the past couple of decades is the price to get into the House of Lords has gone up from £1 million from New Labour to £3 million from the Conservatives.

“There’s Tory inflation for you.

“It now seems that nearly all the past treasurers of the Conservative Party of later years are in that place, wearing their ermine, taking a part in the legislative decisions of this country.

“The only characteristic they seem to have, the only defining feature that seems to get them a place in that House, is the fact they’re able to give several million pounds to this Government.”

SNP MP Pete Wishart (House of Commons/PA)
SNP MP Pete Wishart (House of Commons/PA)

On Sunday, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: “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.”

But Mr Wishart said: “I think the public will probably assess that the accounts of the Conservative Party is just about the worst and least deserving good cause that there in this land.”

He labelled the House of Lords a “receptacle for donors” of either Labour or the Tories.

Mr Wishart went on: “I have asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate these appointments under the provisions of section 1, subsection 2 of the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925.

“That Act states that if any person gives, or agrees or proposes to give, or offers to any person any gift, money or valuable consideration as an inducement or reward for procuring or assisting or endeavouring to procure the grant of a dignity or title of honour to any person, or otherwise in connection with such a grant, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanour.

“I have now asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate the activities of the Conservative Party and the awarding of places in the House of Lords.”

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