British PM admits hosting wealthy party donors
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Last Updated: Monday, March 26, 2012, 23:00
  
London: Britain's David Cameron admitted on Monday to hosting donors to his Conservative party at his official residence, the day after a top party official quit for trying to sell access to the premier.

In an abrupt U-turn Cameron published details of three dinners with wealthy supporters since taking office in 2010, but also sought to quell the row with a promise to work towards long-stalled reforms of party funding.

Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas was forced to resign yesterday after being filmed offering potential donors private dinners with Cameron for 250,000 pounds (USD 396,000, 299,000 euros) and an opportunity to shape government policy.

Opposition Labour leader Ed Miliband demanded a full independent investigation into the "very disturbing revelations" and full disclosure of all meetings with donors.

Hours after a senior Tory minister said such a disclosure was "unreasonable" and just minutes after a Downing Street spokeswoman said they were private meetings, the prime minister changed tack.

"There have been three occasions on which significant donors have come to dinner in my flat," Cameron said, interrupting a pre-planned televised speech on funding for dementia to deal with the issue.

He said none of the dinners had been fundraising events and they had largely involved old friends, adding: "Peter Cruddas has never recommended anyone to come to dinner in my flat, nor has he been to dinner there myself."

Cameron also promised to publish all such future dinners, compile a register of major Tory donors who attend party fundraising events, and draw up new guidance for ministers on lobbying.

The prime minister repeated that Cruddas' comments, filmed by undercover reporters, were "completely unacceptable and wrong" and insisted that they did not result in any money changing hands.

"However to avoid any perception of undue influence from now on we will on put in place new procedures" for ministers concerned about lobbying, he said.

The prime minister added that the row had proved there was "an urgent need for party funding reform in this country" and invited the opposition Labour party to restart talks on the issue.

PTI


First Published: Monday, March 26, 2012, 23:00


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