David Cameron has hosted four private gatherings at his Downing Street flat attended by industrialists and tycoons
Conservative party donors worth more than £3bn were invited to four private soirees held by David Cameron in his Downing Street flat, according to details released on Monday.
Their disclosure follows immense political pressure in the wake of the secret recording of the Tory party treasurer, Peter Cruddas, who has since resigned. He told undercover journalists that for £250,000 they could dine with the prime minister in his private apartment and make suggestions on policy.
A post-election "thank-you dinner" was held at 10 Downing Street on 14 July 2010, Downing Street said.
Guests included Anthony Bamford of JCB, hedge-fund tycoon Michael Hintze, Tory peer Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, Lansdowne Partners chief executive Sir Paul Ruddock, City financier Mike Farmer and Michael Freeman, as well as their spouses.
Telegraph Media Group chief executive Murdoch MacLennan, who is not listed by the Electoral Commission as a donor to the Tories, also attended.
Bamford has donated more than £4m personally to the Tories over the last decade. In February, weeks before the budget, Bamford wrote and sent a report directly to the prime minister saying that corporate and personal taxes should be lowered.
Hintze's donations to the Conservative party total £1.4m over the last decade, in addition to £2.5m in loans. The 58–year–old former Australian army captain founded the £5bn hedge fund CQS.
Ruddock, the founder of hedge fund Lansdowne Partners, has spoken out against regulations on banks and called for a reduction in the 50p tax bracket.
Cameron held another dinner on 28 February last year. Property tycoon and major donor David Rowland, who had previously been appointed party treasurer, attended a dinner in the flat, along with party co-chairman Lord [Andrew] Feldman.
Rowland had stood down as Conservative treasurer in August 2010 after just two months in the post following protests from senior Tories.
Donations registered under the name of David Rowland since 2009 total more than £4m.
The third dinner disclosed was held in November last year. Cameron held a "social dinner for strong and long-term supporters of the party, with whom the PM has a strong relationship", including banker and Tory donor Henry Angest, and farmer and oil company boss Ian Taylor.
Taylor's company, Vitol, was helped last year by his friend, the minister Alan Duncan, to ensure vital supplies got through to the insurgents in Libya and were prevented from reaching Colonel Gaddafi. Duncan spearheaded the government's secret "Libya Oil Cell", which helped Vitol to take petrol and gas into Benghazi and bring crude oil out.
Other guests included Michael Farmer, a city financier who has donated more than £3m to the Tories and who was appointed co-treasurer of the party last month, and Michael and Clara Freeman, who are listed as having given nearly £500,000 over the last five years. Michael Freeman is a property developer and his wife is a former director of Marks and Spencer.
In February this year, Cameron held a fourth social occasion with former treasurer and major donor Michael Spencer and his partner. Spencer has given nearly £280,000 personally, including providing travel for senior party figures.
The prime minister pledged to publish a quarterly register of any future meals at official residences with people who have given more than £50,000 to the Tories.
Cruddas quit on Saturday after the Sunday Times published secret recordings in which he urged undercover reporters to give more than £250,000 in return for direct face time with senior ministers.
Cameron broke into a scheduled speech on dementia care in London to address the Cruddas affair.
"In the two years I have been prime minister, there have been three occasions on which significant donors have come to a dinner in my flat. In addition, there was a further post-election dinner which included donors in Downing Street itself shortly after the general election," he said. "None of these dinners were fundraising dinners and none of these dinners were paid for by the taxpayer. I have known most of those attending for many years."
Source: The Guardian