November 9th 2021
The Metropolitan Police is ‘considering’ claims Conservatives handed peerages to donors who gave millions to the party.
Of the party’s last 16 treasurers, all but one have been offered a seat in the House of Lords after giving at least £3 million, a joint investigation by Open Democracy and the Sunday Times found.
This includes nine ex-treasurers since the Conservatives returned to power in 2010.
SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart wrote to commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to raise ‘potential criminal misconduct regarding the procurement of honours and membership of the Lords’.
In the letter, he said: ‘In total, 22 of the Conservative Party’s biggest financial contributors have been made members of the House of Lords in the past 11 years.
‘Together they have donated some £54 million to the Tories. I believe that it is only right to investigate whether these donations were, in fact, rewarded with honours.’
Responding, a spokesperson said the police ‘has received correspondence relating to recent media reports concerning the awarding of peerages’.
They said: ‘At this time, we are considering the contents of the correspondence.’
An investigation has not yet been launched.
Mr Wishart told Sky News: ‘The Pandora’s box marked Tory sleaze has been opened for full examination, and what a rotten septic cesspit we found that to be.’
Justice secretary and deputy prime minister Dominic Raab insisted there was ‘absolutely no question’ of the government being involved in a cash for honours scandal.
He said opposition parties were making ‘political points’ by asking police to investigate.
Mr Raab told the broadcaster: ‘In relation to becoming appointed to the House of Lords, there’s also very clear rules.
‘I would just say that, of course, people who are entrepreneurs but also engaged in public service, whether that’s charities, whether that’s supporting political parties, do a public service.
‘And certainly we benefit when the Conservative Party has a treasurer… people who’ve got that kind of experience.’
During his interview, Mr Wishart was forced to defend a complaint about a £600,000 Scottish independence fund which is under investigation.
He said: ‘There has been, obviously, a complaint about money that was given to the Scottish National Party, which is still available for an independence campaign, from accounts which have been properly accounted for and given to the Electoral Commission.’
In 2006 and 2007 Met officers quizzed then prime minister Tony Blair over similar allegations of high-stakes Labour lenders being recommended for honours.
It was the first time a sitting prime minister had been quizzed by the police.
Speaking in the Commons yesterday, Mr Wishart claimed ‘the price to get into the House of Lords has gone up from £1 million from New Labour to £3 million from the Conservatives’. He quipped: ‘There’s Tory inflation for you.’
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