- Rupert Murdoch hits out at breakdown in trust caused by Tory bung revelations
- Met Police investigating crime under election law
- Sunday Times scoop prompted resignation of Tory treasurer within hours
Conservative party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas announced his resignation at 2am on Sunday morning just hours after The Sunday Times revealed details of its Tory party cash for access scoop.
During a three-month investigation by Insight team journalists Jonathan Calvert and Heidi Blake, journalists from the paper posed as wealth fund executives.
They hired Sarah Southern, a former Cameron aide now working as a lobbyist, who advised them that making a ‘huge donation’was the best way to gain access to senior government figures, the paper reported.
During a two-hour meeting with Cruddas, which was secretly filmed, reporters were told that payments of up to £250,000 put donors in the ‘premier league’making things ‘open up for you”.
He claimed that four of the Tory party’s biggest benefactors had even dined with the Prime Minister and his wife in their private apartment in Downing Street.
Cruddas said that he was the Tory party’s biggest donor last year, giving £1.2m, and he revealed that he had personally asked Cameron to oppose the Europe-wide Tobin tax on financial deals the day before he attended a summit of EU leaders and vetoed the plan.
Cruddas told undercover reporters: ‘You cannot buy access to the prime minister, full stop.’But added: ‘If you donate you will be invited to events where the prime minister is there. And frequently, if you get into the right club and I can advise you, you could well be at a private house having a private dinner with the chancellor, William Hague, David Cameron, Michael Gove, all the top ministers, the chairman of the part, where around that table there will be very distinguished business people.”
Even though the supposed money offered was from a foreign wealth fund managed in Lichtenstein on behalf of clients in the Middle East, Cruddas suggested a subsidiary company could be set up in the UK to donate the cash – thereby bypassing laws which ban foreign donations.
Last night a Downing Street source said a “handful” of donors had been for dinner with the Prime Minister and his wife, Samantha, in their Downing Street flat. It also emerged yesterday that the Met Police is investigating whether a crime has been committed under election law.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “Today, Sunday, March 25, an allegation was made at Greenwich police station under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000.
“The allegation is currently being assessed. We are not prepared to discuss this any further.”
Sunday Times proprietor Rupert Murdoch, who has himself been at the centre of claims that he has used his press power to wield undemocratic political influence, said on Twitter: ‘Without trust, democracy, and order will go.”
He also said via a tweet: ‘Of course there must be a full independent inquiry on both sides. In great detail, and with consequences. Trust must be establish.”
And in a further message he added: ‘Cameron should have just followed history and flogged some seats in the Lords, if they still have value! precedents of centuries.”
- To contact the Press Gazette newsdesk call 020 7936 6433 or email email@example.com