Police RULE OUT investigation into claims Tory donors handed peerages

Met Police RULE OUT criminal investigation into claims Tory donors who gave the party £3million were handed peerages

  • Metropolitan Police ruled out probe into Tory donors being granted peerages
  • Nine of Conservatives’ former treasurers have been elevated to House of Lords
  • 22 of the party’s main financial donors given peerages after donating £54million 

The Metropolitan Police have ruled out investigating claims that major Conservative donors who gifted the party £3 million were in return handed peerages.

The force said its officers had concluded there were ‘not sufficient grounds’ to initiate a probe after being urged to do so by senior SNP MPs.

It comes after an investigation by The Sunday Times and Open Democracy found nine of the party’s former treasurers have been elevated to the House of Lords since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010, having each donated more than £3 million to the party.

The report also said that in the past 11 years, 22 of the party’s main financial donors have been given peerages after donating a combined £54 million.

SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart, who wrote to Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick this week calling for the ‘cash for honours’ allegations to be looked into, confirmed the force had written to inform him that officers would not be taking it any further at this time.

The Metropolitan Police said its officers had concluded there were ‘not sufficient grounds’ to initiate a probe after being urged to do so by senior SNP MPs

He said he was ‘disappointed but it was not unexpected’.

In a statement released by the party, Mr Wishart said: ‘The fact that Boris Johnson, and his predecessors, have handed peerages to dozens of millionaire Tory Party donors absolutely stinks and it is an appalling abuse of the system.

‘The independence of the police is paramount and we respect their decision, which is based on the evidence that is immediately available and the law as it stands.

‘However, the fact that the Tories could get away with the shameful practice of dishing out peerages to their wealthy donors proves that the Westminster system is broken beyond repair and will never be fixed.’

The Met said: ‘Specialist detectives have considered the contents of correspondence received by the MPS (Metropolitan Police Service) relating to recent media reports concerning the awarding of peerages.

SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart wrote to Met Commissioner Dame Cressida Dick

‘Taking into account both the information provided in the correspondence and other available information alongside the relevant legislation, officers have concluded that there are not sufficient grounds to initiate an investigation.

‘Should further information regarding these matters be provided to the MPS it will of course be considered.’

SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil, who also wrote to the Met this week over the press reports, said he would be considering whether ‘potential legislation’ was needed to tackle political donors being elevated to the Lords.

The Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP said he had written to the Prime Minister, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer and Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey asking them to commit to ruling out party donors being given seats in the upper chamber to show they are ‘serious’ about clamping down on cronyism. 

Wealthy backers who take on the temporary role of party treasurer appear to be offered a seat in the House of Lords once they have donated £3million, it was claimed last week. 

All 16 of the Conservatives’ main treasurers, excluding the most recent, were offered a seat in the Lords in the past two decades including Peter Cruddas, Lord Spencer, Lord Fraser, Lord Lupton and Lord Farmer.

It comes after an investigation by The Sunday Times and Open Democracy found nine of the party’s former treasurers have been elevated to the House of Lords since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010. Pictured, Cressida Dick

Six former Tory ministers felt uneasy about the practice, some calling it a ‘scandal’.

One ex-party chairman said: ‘The truth is the entire political establishment knows this happens and they do nothing about it…The most telling line is once you pay your £3 million, you get your peerage.’ 

Another former minister called it a ‘scandal in plain sight’ whilst another alleged that ‘a law of omerta’ silences anyone from discussions of a link between donations and seats.

Peter Cruddas’s peerage was pushed through by Boris Johnson despite the Lords appointments commissions’ recommendation. 

One of its members told the investigation the decision ‘left a bad taste in my mouth’.

The commission advised against the honour because Mr Cruddas resigned as Conservative co-treasurer in 2012 after it was claimed he offered access to then PM and his chancellor in return for donations and it is believed he has been turned down numerous times before.

The investigation suggests treasurers are rewarded with peerage if they donate more than £3 million to the party. Pictured, Lord Lupton 

The wealthy contributor appears to be offered a seat in the House of Lords if they take on a temporary role as party treasurer and donate more than £3 million, according to the investigation 

According to data from The Electoral Commission Mr Cruddas donated a total of £4,238,299.66 to the party and campaigns it’s supported going as far back as 2009. 

Last week ex-Prime Minister John Major hit out against Johnson in the deepening sleaze-row his party has been embroiled in, the latest being Owen Paterson’s scandal.

Speaking of Downing Street refusing to rule out the possibility of recommending Mr Paterson a peerage, Major told BBC Radio 4: ‘There have been some extraordinary elevations to the peerage in recent years, quite extraordinary.

‘Quite apart from the over-large number of peers that have been put there, I think it would be rather extraordinary if that happens and I’m not at all sure if it would be approved of by the House of Lords or by those who vet peerages.’  

Boris Johnson has been dragged through a number of ‘sleaze-row’ and cronyism scandals in the party  

According to the investigation a Tory insider said peerages were dangled like ‘carrots’ in the ‘cynical operation’ and told of an instance where a donor was convinced to give £1 million because it may lead to a seat. 

There is suggestion that any of the donors named were promised peerage or requested it return for donations but several sources in the party have criticised the system’s rewarding of wealthy benefactors. 

Lord Spencer’s lawyers have denied the claim that he took the treasury role for peerage and Lord Farmer told the investigation that he donated to the party ‘because he wanted a Conservative government’ while others declined to comment. 

A Conservative Party spokesman told MailOnline: ‘We do not believe that successful businesspeople and philanthropists who contribute to political causes and parties should be disqualified from sitting in the legislature.’  

Source: Read Full Article