A Tory donor who was made a peer against the advice of the Lords’ appointment watchdog made a half-a-million-pound donation to Boris Johnson’s party only days after taking up his seat.
Electoral Commission records show that Lord Cruddas donated £500,000 to the Conservative Party on February 5 – three days after being bestowed with the traditional scarlet robes of the House of Lords.
Labour appeared to suggest the donation – the second largest given by an individual in the first quarter of 2021, according to the political spending watchdog – was connected to the Prime Minister’s decision to hand the former party treasurer a peerage in controversial circumstances.
The Prime Minister sparked criticism in January after brushing aside objections by the upper chamber’s Appointments Commission to give the Brexit-backer a place in the Lords.
The vetting body had raised “historic concerns” about the City financier, which related to allegations that he offered access to then-prime minister David Cameron in exchange for donations.
Lord Cruddas’ six-figure donation was accepted by the Tories three days after being made and was reported to the commission on April 27.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner tweeted: “What do the Tories do for a man forced to resign in disgrace amidst allegations of cash for access to government ministers?
“They put him in the House of Lords with a life peerage and he coincidentally gives the Tories half a million quid.”
Labour chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: “Whether it’s handing out taxpayers’ money to their mates or giving peerages to disgraced donors, there is always one rule for the Conservatives and their chums and another for the rest of us.”
A Tory party spokesman said: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and are published by them.
“Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process: the alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals – or else, being in the pocket of union barons, like the Labour Party.”
The largest donation recorded by the Electoral Commission between January and March was by William E Hampton, an English mechanic whose estate has paid out a further £800,000 to Sinn Fein.
Mr Hampton, who died aged 82 in January 2018, has previously donated £1.5 million in two instalments to the Irish republican party.
Those contributions in 2019 made-up the largest donation given to a political party in Northern Ireland.
Mr Hampton, who was not married and had no children, left some money to friends and acquaintances, but the main beneficiary of the will had been Sinn Fein.
It is understood that he spent some time living in Ireland and was a long-time supporter of the party before his death at his home in Pembrokeshire, Wales.