British PM admits hosting wealthy party donors

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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