Russian-linked donations accepted by Tory MP 'properly and legally declared'

A Conservative MP has side stepped further criticism of Russian-linked donations highlighted in a letter from a rival for his Parliamentary seat.

Luke Myer wrote to Sir Simon Clarke, the MP for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, stating it was “wholly inappropriate” for the latter to accept money on behalf of energy firm Aquind Limited and its associates. The Daily Telegraph newspaper said Sir Simon accepted £5,000, despite the Ministry of Defence having previously raised “significant security concerns” about an under sea cabling project involving Aquind.

Sir Simon, a former cabinet minister, similarly came under fire in 2020 when it emerged two donations totalling £10,000 had been received on his behalf from Aquind and a Russian businessman-turned British citizen listed as a director of the firm. Mr Myer, a Redcar and Cleveland councillor who is Labour ’s prospective parliamentary candidate for Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland, said the MP had now accepted a total of six donations amounting to £30,000 to date.

He wrote: “It is wholly inappropriate to continue to accept money from Aquind and its owners given the serious concerns that have been raised about the project.”

He said Sir Simon should reassure the public and return the donations in question. Mr Myer told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) that no reply to his letter had been received from Sir Simon or his office. He said the MP’s acceptance of the latest donation was “extraordinary” and “he seems intent on hoping this will go away quietly”.

The LDRS approached a representative of Sir Simon for comment with a spokesman stating: “All of Sir Simon’s donations have been properly and legally declared.” However he failed to elaborate any further on the MP’s position.

A previously published report by MPs on Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee warned about political interference from Russia in British democracy.

Sir Simon was first elected to the constituency in 2017 before increasing his majority to 11,626 two years later.