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Thread: Tory sleaze strikes again - bagman Osborne backpedals

  1. #1

    Default Tory sleaze strikes again - bagman Osborne backpedals

    What always strikes me about the evergreen scandals surrounding illegal "donations", "loans" and "contributions" to political parties of all persuasions is how cheap they are. For a measly £50k you can allegedly buy the Tory Party.

    For non Brits the scandal here is that it is illegal for a UK political party to accept money from a non British citizen, thus even discussing such a payment from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, was courting disaster.

    Shades of Tony Blair taking £1 million from FI's Bernie Ecclestone to allow tobacco advertising on TV of FI races, and Mandy's (Mandelson's)loan from former party Treasurer who's banking and financial business in Belize was tainted by allegations of drug money laundering, or the earlier Tory party decision to take money from a Hong Kong Chinese businessman reputed to be a drug lord are just some of the sleaze we Brits have faced in recent years.

    **

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...fu-968625.html

    Osborne, the oligarch and a yacht in Corfu

    The shadow Chancellor made political mischief over Lord Mandelson's links with a Russian billionaire – but it backfired with spectacular effect, reports

    Andrew Grice
    Wednesday, 22 October 2008

    CORFUGATE: THE PLAYERS

    When Peter Mandelson made his shock return to the Cabinet this month, George Osborne could not believe it. Only six weeks earlier, the shadow Chancellor had enjoyed a frank and convivial conversation with Lord Mandelson over dinner at a taverna in Corfu, after their paths crossed during their summer breaks.

    The political rivals were unusually candid. Mr Osborne, it seems, spoke about the resistance among Tory activists to the modernising medicine David Cameron was forcing them to swallow. In turn, Lord Mandelson is said to have admitted that Gordon Brown was vulnerable to the charge of presiding over a "culture of debt".

    For Mr Osborne, who has a reputation at Westminster for loving to exchange good gossip, his holiday chat was too good to keep to himself. Two days after Mr Brown made Lord Mandelson his Business Secretary, a front-page story appeared in The Sunday Times under the headline: "Mandelson damned PM to top Tory." It claimed that Lord Mandelson "dripped pure poison" about Mr Brown.

    Although Mr Osborne was not named as the source, he said on television on the day the story appeared: "Let me just say it's very surprising to hear him say he's joined at the hip with Gordon Brown. And if the problem with this Government is it's divided and dysfunctional, bringing Peter Mandelson in is going to make it more dysfunctional and more divided."

    Yesterday, it appeared that Mr Osborne's decision to pass on his chat with Lord Mandelson had backfired on him spectacularly. He was alleged to have solicited money during his visit to Corfu from Oleg Deripaska, Russia's richest man, who is a friend of Lord Mandelson. Since becoming Business Secretary, a series of newspaper articles has appeared about his links to the billionaire businessman, whose companies benefited from a relaxation of EU tariffs on aluminium while Lord Mandelson was its Trade Commissioner. Lord Mandelson and Commission officials have insisted that there was no conflict of interest, and no impropriety has been proved.

    There have been hints from Labour sources that the Tories were "playing with fire" because something else happened in Corfu this summer that could be extremely damaging to them. Ben Wegg–Prosser, Lord Mandelson's former aide who now lives in Moscow, wrote prophetically on his "Wegg-Blog" last week: "Thanks to George Osborne's blabbermouth Peter's vacation has now dominated two weeks' worth of Sunday newspapers. Anyway, that's another story in itself, and one which George will come to regret I suspect."

    Yesterday it became clear what he was referring to. In a letter to The Times, Nat Rothschild, a hedge-fund manager and member of the banking dynasty, expressed concern that the paper and its Sunday stablemate has focused on the friendship between Lord Mandelson and Mr Deripaska in reports about "a private gathering of my friends".

    Mr Rothschild, one of Mr Osborne's oldest friends since they were contemporaries at Oxford University, alleged that Mr Osborne, who was staying at the Rothschild family villa in Corfu, invited the Tories' chief fundraiser Andrew Feldman to join him on Mr Deripaska's £80m yacht Queen K "to solicit a donation" to the Tories.

    His letter went on: "Since Mr Deripaska is not a British citizen, it was suggested by Mr Feldman in a subsequent conversation at which Mr Deripaska was not present, that the donation was 'channelled' through one of Mr Deripaska's British companies." The law states that donors to UK parties must be on the electoral register and UK companies cannot be used as a front for foreign donations.

    Why did such a glittering cast list of characters from the worlds of politics and business gather in Corfu in August? Lord Mandelson went to the island to attend a dinner party marking the 40th birthday of Elisabeth Murdoch at the Rothschild family villa on the island. The 40 people present included her father Rupert Murdoch, whose media empire includes the two Times titles, Mr Osborne, Mr Deripaska, Lord Mandelson and Mr Rothschild.

    The fateful dinner at the taverna in which Lord Mandelson and Mr Osborne swapped stories about British politics took place on the day after the Murdoch party. Again, Mr Rothschild was present. On the following day, Mr Osborne told Mr Rothschild that Mr Feldman was holidaying 12 miles away. Mr Rothschild invited Mr Feldman to join them for an early evening drink on the terrace's villa.

    According to the Conservatives, it was Mr Rothschild who raised the prospect of Mr Deripaska giving money to the party – not Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman. They then joined the Russian tycoon on his yacht. The Tories are adamant there was no discussion of any donation either then or when Mr Osborne had a five-minute discussion with Mr Deripaska at the Rothschild villa the following day.

    On 18 September, Mr Rothschild told Mr Feldman that Leyland Daf, a British van manufacturer owned by the Russian businessman, was interested in giving money to the Tories. After consulting senior party officials, Mr Feldman decided that while a donation would not be illegal, it would not be appropriate.

    The long-standing friendship between Mr Rothschild and Mr Osborne makes the dispute over their rival version of events even more remarkable. His mother, Lady Serena Rothschild, gave £190,000 to help fund the shadow Chancellor's office in 2007, channelled through Conservative HQ.

    Why, then, did Mr Rothschild turn against the man who was a fellow member of the hell-raising Bullingdon Club while they were at Oxford? According to friends, the hedge-fund manager felt that his old friend had broken the unwritten rules of the game by playing politics with information gleaned while he enjoyed his hospitality. In other words, he suspects the Tories have had a hand in whipping up the stories about the Mandelson-Deripaska relationship.

    Friends say Mr Rothschild has "had words" with Mr Osborne and that his letter to The Times was intended to be "a slap on the wrist". They insist he was "hugely surprised" the Tories denied his claim that they solicited money from Mr Deripaska. The Tories suspect Lord Mandelson, furious at Mr Osborne's indiscretions, had a hand in the Rothschild letter – a charge denied by his friends and by Mr Rothschild, who insists it was his decision alone.

    The allegations over funding have put a second question mark over Mr Osborne's judgement – and his future. In a blog yesterday, a gleeful Mr Wegg-Prosser said: "George loves to play the game, and on recent form he is good at it, rising to the heights of shadow Chancellor with relative ease. Everything for him is a game of political chess, a tactical policy move here, a strategic friendship there, a word in this columnist's ear and a lunch with that captain of industry. Always trading on insights, gossip, wit and considerable intelligence. Yet, might the same skills which have enabled him to climb the greasy pole be the same attributes that bring him down?"

    Letter to The Times:

    Sir, Not once in the acres of coverage did you mention that George Osborne found the opportunity of meeting with (Oleg) Deripaska so good that he invited the Conservatives' fundraiser Andrew Feldman, who was staying nearby, to accompany him on to Mr Deripaska's boat to solicit a donation.

    Since Mr Deripaska is not a British citizen, it was suggested by Mr Feldman, in a subsequent conversation at which Mr Deripaska was not present, that the donation was "channelled" through one of Mr Deripaska's British companies. Mr Deripaska declined to make any donation.

    Tory statement in response:

    "The allegations made in Mr Rothschild's letter are completely untrue. Both Andrew Feldman and George Osborne deny absolutely that they attempted to solicit a donation from Oleg Deripaska. Nor did they suggest a method by which he could conceal a donation via a British company. They spent a short period of time on Mr Deripaska's boat at the invitation of Mr Rothschild. Donations to the Conservative Party were not discussed with Mr Deripaska."

    Corfugate: The unlikely crew on the good ship Queen K

    George Osborne

    Shadow Chancellor and David Cameron's closest political ally as a founding member of the "Notting Hill Set" of modernising Tory MPs. The 37-year-old is the son of a baronet and beneficiary of a family trust linked to the Osborne and Little wallpaper firm. While at Oxford he was a member of the Bullingdon Club drinking society along with Nathaniel Rothschild, a financier and son of Baron Rothshchild, who gave the Conservative Party £190,000 – which helps to fund Mr Osborne's office.

    Nathaniel Rothschild

    The Eton and Oxford-educated financier is heir to a banking fortune – he and his father are estimated to be worth a combined £1.4bn. But he is also a successful financier in his own right. His work as co-chairman of the Atticus Capital investment fund since

    1995 is said to have put him on track to becoming the most wealthy Rothschild in history, with homes in Klosters, London, New York and Corfu. His link with Mr Osborne goes back to their days at Oxford in the Bullingdon Club.

    Andrew Feldman

    The Conservative Party chief executive and party fundraiser, 42, is a close Oxford friend of David Cameron. The two were members of the Brasenose College tennis team and helped to organise theircollege's May Ball. Mr Feldman, a lawyer who ran his family textile firm, was instrumental in persuading Mr Cameron to stand for the Tory leadership, putting him in touch with the carpet tycoon and Tory donor Lord Harris. He subsequently helped to organise Mr Cameron's leadership election.

    Oleg Deripaska

    The oligarch, 40, is listed by Forbes as Russia's richest man with a fortune built on aluminium and his Basic Element master company. He is said to be close to Vladimir Putin. British interests include LDV vans and he is rumoured to be interested in buying a football club. His friendship with Peter Mandelson sparked a row after the EU lifted a 14.9 per cent tariff on aluminium in 2005.

    Peter Mandelson

    Lord Mandelson, 55, holds the distinction of being the first cabinet minister to resign twice, quitting the DTI in 1998 after details of a home loan from Geoffrey Robinson emerged. He returned as Northern Ireland Secretary before resigning over the Hinduja passport affair, although he was cleared. He returned to the Cabinet this month, after serving as EU trade commissioner.

    'I met oligarch five times but didn't ask for money'

    This is the edited text of the statement issued on behalf of George Osborne and Andrew Feldman

    George Osborne has met Oleg Deripaska on five occasions, four of which happened over a weekend in Corfu in August.On Saturday 26 January 2008 at the Davos World Economic Forum, Mr Osborne was introduced to Mr Deripaska in the company of others including Peter Mandelson. They had a brief group conversation about the world economy.

    On Friday 22 August while on a family holiday in Corfu, Mr Osborne and his wife were invited onto Mr Deripaska's yacht by Mr Rothschild. Others present again included Peter Mandelson. The conversation involved Russian and British politics. There was no conversation about political donations.

    That evening Mr Osborne attended a party at the Rothschild villa and sat on the same table as Mr Rothschild, Mr Deripaska and Mr Mandelson. Again, there was no conversation about party funding.

    The next evening – 23 August – Mr Osborne attended a dinner at a local taverna. Mr Deripaska did not attend but Mr Rothschild and Peter Mandelson did. The conversation involved the state of British politics.

    The next day – 24 August – Mr Osborne, who had been staying in a rented house but was now staying at the Rothschild villa with his family, mentioned to Mr Rothschild that Andrew Feldman – who Mr Rothschild had met once before – was holidaying half an hour away with his family and friends.

    Mr Rothschild invited Mr Feldman to join them for an early evening drink at the villa. This was a social invitation and at no point previously had Mr Osborne and Mr Rothschild discussed the possibility of a donation to the Conservative Party from Mr Deripaska.

    Mr Feldman, Mr Osborne, Mr Rothschild and two other house guests gathered on the villa terrace. There was a discussion about British and American politics in the course of which Mr Rothschild suggested to Mr Feldman that his friend, Mr Deripaska could be interested in making a party donation. Mr Feldman had not met Mr Deripaska previously and was not aware who he was.

    Mr Feldman said there were strict rules on donations to political parties in the UK. He said there were two ways of giving a political donation – if you appear as an individual on the UK electoral roll or if the donation comes from a legitimate UK trading company.

    This is an explanation Mr Feldman gives regularly. At this point Mr Rothschild said Mr Deripaska owned UK trading companies including Leyland Daf. There was no discussion about how a donation by Mr Deripaska could be concealed or channelled. At no point did Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman solicit or ask for a donation, suggest ways of channelling a donation or express a wish to meet with Mr Deripaska to discuss donations. The conversation moved on to the US elections.

    Some time later Mr Rothschild – having phoned Mr Deripaska – invited Mr Osborne, Mr Feldman and one other house guest for a drink on Mr Deripaska's yacht which was moored nearby. Mr Osborne and Mr Feldman agreed to meet with Mr Deripaska.

    They stayed on the boat for about an hour and drank tea. There was a discussion about British and Russian politics, education and Russian history. There was no mention of party funding or the possibility of Mr Deripaska making a donation to the Conservative Party.

    After they left the boat Mr Feldman did not see Mr Deripaska or Mr Rothschild again and had no further conversations with Mr Deripaska. Mr Osborne met Mr Deripaska again briefly the following lunchtime when Mr Deripaska and Mr Mandelson visited the Rothschild villa. The conversation lasted no more than five minutes and there was no discussion about political donations. Indeed Mr Osborne has had no further discussions with Mr Deripaska. Nor has he had a further conversation with Mr Rothschild about donations.

    On 18 September Mr Feldman and Mr Rothschild had a phone conversation about the possibility of Mr Rothschild hosting a fund-raising dinner for the Conservative Party – something the Rothschild family have done before. Mr Rothschild mentioned that Leyland Daf, a UK trading company owned by Mr Deripaska, was interested in making a donation to the party.

    Mr Feldman said that he was not sure if such a donation was appropriate. He told Mr Rothschild he would seek advice. Later that day it was decided after consultation with senior party officials that it would not be appropriate to accept such a donation. There was no further contact from Mr Rothschild or Mr Deripaska and the matter was considered to be at an end.

    For clarity – neither Mr Feldman nor Mr Osborne have ever discussed with Oleg Deripaska the possibility of him making a political donation. At no point in any of these meetings did Mr Osborne or Mr Feldman solicit or attempt to solicit a donation from Mr Deripaska. Nor did they suggest any way that a donation could be channelled or concealed through a British company.

    This statement constitutes a full explanation of Mr Osborne and Mr Feldman's dealings with Mr Deripaska. We would now urge Lord Mandelson to provide the same.
    The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge.
    Carl Jung - Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

  2. #2

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David Guyatt View Post
    What always strikes me about the evergreen scandals surrounding illegal "donations", "loans" and "contributions" to political parties of all persuasions is how cheap they are. For a measly £50k you can allegedly buy the Tory Party.

    For non Brits the scandal here is that it is illegal for a UK political party to accept money from a non British citizen, thus even discussing such a payment from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, was courting disaster.

    Shades of Tony Blair taking £1 million from FI's Bernie Ecclestone to allow tobacco advertising on TV of FI races, and Mandy's (Mandelson's)loan from former party Treasurer who's banking and financial business in Belize was tainted by allegations of drug money laundering, or the earlier Tory party decision to take money from a Hong Kong Chinese businessman reputed to be a drug lord are just some of the sleaze we Brits have faced in recent years.

    **

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk...fu-968625.html

    Osborne, the oligarch and a yacht in Corfu

    The shadow Chancellor made political mischief over Lord Mandelson's links with a Russian billionaire – but it backfired with spectacular effect, reports

    Andrew Grice
    Wednesday, 22 October 2008

    CORFUGATE: THE PLAYERS

    For Mr Osborne, who has a reputation at Westminster for loving to exchange good gossip...
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2...eosborne-corfu

    Candida Jones, “How George Osborne ruined my day at the beach in Corfu,” The Guardian, G2, Thursday, 23 October 2008, p.2

    It was mid-afternoon on August 14 and we were on Kalamaki beach - a glorious bay on the north-east coast of Corfu where the intensely blue sea was so still it resembled oil rather than water. Barely a wave lapped the shore as I relaxed with my husband, brother and children. There were families throwing balls, people chatting in warm, shallow water and children with snorkels dragging small fishing nets. The scene was idyllic. The focus for most of those playing in the sea was a long, rickety, wooden pier. Children were jumping from it, dangling their feet in the water and playing tag. My three-year-old daughter was learning how to dive off the end when a motor boat appeared.

    I was alarmed by the speed at which it approached. Parents stopped and watched, and I began to collect our little ones around me as I could sense danger. The boat kept coming and I began to worry. Surely no one would drive a boat through crowded water and, anyway, where was it going? Couldn't those on board see that there was nowhere to moor as the pier was packed with children playing? Several parents, in several languages, complained loudly that this was an inappropriate place to bring a motorboat. It carried on without any apology from those on board and the bathers made way - the diving games stopped and children were hurriedly helped down from the pier and sent to the beach to play.

    A very smartly dressed family disembarked and marched towards the shore. Leading the way was a man in blue shorts and white polo shirt, wearing deck shoes, which he clearly didn't intend to get wet, followed by a couple of children, also dressed smartly and not for the beach, a woman, whom we assumed was their mother and was carrying a picnic basket, and a nanny, who brought up the rear and was carrying the bulk of the bags. I could tell immediately these people were English, by the way they were dressed and their seemingly superior manner. I felt embarrassed that a typically informal, relaxed and inclusive Greek afternoon was being so rudely interrupted by one small, well-turned-out, organised, English family.

    I recognised George Osborne as he led the way. Shouts continued from the parents, which made the Osborne family hurry, but none of them looked back or exuded the air of bashful apology one would expect. Osborne, hearing the protests, simply said, addressing everyone, "It's a pier, that's what it's for." He said it loudly, angrily, without looking at any of those whose afternoon he had spoiled.

    Of course he was right. It was a pier, and that is what they are for, but that day it was full of families having fun and the boat brought the fun to an end. But what galled people most - lots of us discussed it afterwards - was the way it had happened. No backwards glance, no apology, no hint of embarrassment. It wasn't very Greek at all; indeed it was extremely English in that old imperial way. The Osbornes had to be somewhere, quickly. Perhaps Oleg Deripaska was waiting to talk about money?
    One for George to ponder over his favourite tipple, vodka and coke...

  3. #3

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by David Guyatt View Post
    What always strikes me about the evergreen scandals surrounding illegal "donations", "loans" and "contributions" to political parties of all persuasions is how cheap they are. For a measly £50k you can allegedly buy the Tory Party.

    For non Brits the scandal here is that it is illegal for a UK political party to accept money from a non British citizen, thus even discussing such a payment from Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, was courting disaster.
    Lots of foreign businessmen are rushing to buy the next UK government. But given that that's always been the case, one wonders why traditionally Tory papers like the Times now find the practice objectionable. Is Britain's "permanent government" worried that the practice could now yield "unwelcome" results?:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/new...cle5010659.ece

    Foreign owners channel cash to Tories through their British companies

    By Dominic Kennedy, Chris Smyth and Fran Yeoman


    October 25, 2008

    With George Osborne vehemently denying that he asked a Russian oligarch for £50,000, just how home-grown is the money flowing into the Conservative Party?

    The Times has discovered a series of donations to the Tories of exactly £50,000 or £100,000 paid legally by UK companies where overseas businessmen appear to be in control. Some of the gifts came from businesses that seem to have been extraordinarily generous. One wrote a cheque for a large proportion of its profits, one was making regular losses and one seemed to be doing hardly anything at all.

    Overseas businessmen can contribute quite legitimately to British politics under the current law if their UK-registered companies make donations.

    This is not just an issue for the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrats faced embarrassment after accepting millions of pounds from the Scotsman Michael Brown, living in Majorca, through his London company.

    Indeed, had a contribution been accepted by the Conservatives from Oleg Deripaska’s Leyland Daf, it might well have been within the law, provided that there was no attempt to conceal the source.

    The Times has discovered that £100,000 was given by CVS Management, the management consultancy that is a subsidiary of a British Virgin Islands-registered, Swiss-based investment company.

    The guiding hand of its parent Corvus Capital is the highly colourful Andrew Regan, a financier who was cleared of stealing £2.4 million from a food company where he was chief executive. Today Mr Regan lives in Switzerland. He is invisible on the published British electoral roll. His office confirmed that he travelled from Geneva to attend one Conservative event. He has been invited to other get-togethers but declined.

    Mr Regan, 42, who tried to buy the Coop, is just one of the big beasts overseas whose companies appear to be bankrolling David Cameron’s bid to capture Downing Street.

    Markland Holdings (UK) is part of an organisation owned by two Irish property tycoons, Sean Mulyan and Paddy Kelly. But the business is based in Dublin and has no London office. It gave £100,000 to the Conservatives.

    Venson Automotive Solutions, which gave £50,000, is a British business owned by Dermot Desmond, the billionaire Irish owner of Celtic FC. Then there is the donation from Star Reefers UK, the British wing of a family shipping business whose parent company is chaired by the Swiss-based Norwegian, Kristian Siem. Companies House records show Star Reefers UK lost £394,000 last year. Yet in February this year it gave £50,000 to the Tories.

    Another donation of £50,000 was given in June this year by Sleepwell Hotels UK, which is owned by a trust in the Isle of Man. The latest filed accounts at Companies House for 2006 show that this entity did no trading. The law states that a company must be “carrying on business” for a donation to be eligible.

    Denholm Eke, one of the Manx directors, said the corporate donor was part of a business running hotels in Blackpool and the Isle of Man. A restructuring meant that Sleepwell Hotels UK was now clearly trading and this would be reflected in future accounts. He stressed that nobody had been to any Leader’s Group events.

    Mr Eke, managing director of the trust, said the gift had been a corporate, rather than an individual, donation. “It’s because we are very interested in Blackpool,” he said. “The Conservative Party would provide the most obvious political impetus for a Blackpool regeneration. It [Blackpool] is very sad and run down.”

    Another generous donation came from BSN Capital Partners, a London-based hedge fund advisory business run by two Americans and a Briton. It is ultimately owned in the Cayman Islands by a company which is in turn partly owned by Icap, the Conservative Party treasurer Michael Spencer’s vehicle. Their gift of £100,000 amounted to nearly a quarter of last year’s profits.

    Asked why the money had been paid to the Tories this way, an Icap source said: “The board of that organisation are entitled to choose whether they wish to do [so].” Party funding has been pushed back into the political limelight after a letter to The Times from Nat Rothschild on Monday about George Osborne and the oligarch.

    Foreign donations were widely thought to have been abolished when Tony Blair introduced the antisleaze Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act in 2000. Parties became responsible by law for ensuring that they only took money from eligible donors. The Conservative Party’s own account of what happened on the sunny shores of Corfu this summer is telling.

    A version of events was released on behalf of Mr Osborne, the Shadow Chancellor, and Andrew Feldman, the party’s chief executive. The pair described drinks at the Rothschild family villa with Nathaniel Rothschild, the mutual friend of Mr Osborne, the Russian aluminium magnate Mr Deripaska and the then yet-to-be ennobled Lord Mandelson.

    “Mr Feldman, Mr Osborne, Mr Rothschild and two other house guests gathered on the villa terrace,” the Tories said.

    “There was a discussion about British and American politics in the course of which Mr Rothschild suggested to Mr Feldman that his friend, Mr Deripaska, could be interested in making a party donation.”

    The Tories recalled their response to this idea. “Mr Feldman made clear that there are very strict rules on donations to political parties in the UK. He explained that there are only two ways of giving a political donation. Firstly, if you appear as an individual on the UK electoral roll . . .”

    At this point, Mr Feldman might have been expected to rule out a donation since Mr Deripaska is clearly ineligible to vote in Britain. Instead, he continued. “. . . Secondly, if the donation comes from a legitimate UK trading company. This is an explanation Mr Feldman gives regularly when asked about donations,” the statement added. Mr Rothschild explained that Mr Deripaska was the owner of several British companies, including Leyland Daf. The Conservatives insist they later declined an offer of a payment from Leyland Daf.

    Perusing the list of Tory donors published by the Electoral Commission, the figure £50,000 and its multiples pop up with remarkable frequency. There have been 23 corporate donations of exactly £50,000 and five of £100,000 during the Cameron era.

    Michael Spencer explained that this figure was first suggested by Sir Hay-den Phillips during his official review of party funding. “When David became leader of the party he suggested we use that as a sort of benchmark that would not be considered controversial by anybody, including the Press,” he told The Times.

    Mr Spencer said: “If you are going to have people who support the party, they would expect to meet people in the party including the leader of the party and other Shadow Cabinet members. That’s a perfectly normal and reasonable thing to do. We wish people to feel they are part of the project to get David elected as Prime Minister.

    “Clearly we have to finance the Conservative Party. Therefore unless you propose that we get state financing, we want a significant number of individuals or corporations or any legitimate financial supporter to support us. We need to find ways to attract and encourage them.

    “This is something that’s not only a good thing to do but it’s an interesting thing to do. It’s a marketing device, you might care to say, but there’s no formal list of members. We are not selling access.”

    Cash flow

    BSN Capital Partners
    Donated £100,000 on March 30, 2007 and £50,000 on May 1, 2008. The London company is owned by BSN Holdings, which is based in the Cayman Islands and part-owned by Icap, the company run by Michael Spencer, the Tory treasurer. Two of the three directors are Americans, although they live in London

    Star Reefers UK
    The London company donated £50,000 on February 5, 2008. The holding company, Star Reefers Inc, is based in the Caymans and is ultimately controlled by the Norwegian Siem family

    Markland Holdings (UK)
    The London company donated £100,000 on September 28, 2007. Both directors are Irish and live in Dublin, where the holding company, Markland Holdings Ltd, is based

    Sleepwell Hotels UK
    The Blackpool company donated £50,000 on June 30, 2008. All three directors are based on the Isle of Man. Sleepwell is ultimately controlled by Burnbrae, a private asset management company on the Isle of Man

    Venson Automotive Solutions
    The company, which is based in Thames Ditton, Surrey, donated £50,000 on September 20, 2007. Also gave two donations totalling £34,375 to the Labour Party last year. Venson’s ultimate holding company is Bottin International Investment, which is based in Gibraltar and run by the Irish entrepreneur Dermot Desmond

    CVS Management
    Donated £18,000 on January 1, 2007, £100,000 on April 18, 2007, and £8,500 on November 19, 2007. The company is based in Radlett, Hertfordshire, but owned by Corvus Capital, a Swiss-based investment company registered in the British Virgin Islands. Corvus is run by Andrew Regan, a Briton living in Geneva who last appeared on the electoral roll in 2004

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