Cameron's list of donors who came to dinner fails to silence critics


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The Independent Online

David Cameron's attempt to contain the cash for access affair by releasing a list of donors he has entertained was met with criticism yesterday – and seemingly failed to win over the public.

The Prime Minister yesterday revealed the identities of 17 Tory donors who he has had for dinner at both No 10 and Chequers in an attempt to bring an end to the scandal rocking his premiership. However, his attempts were undermined by a failure to make a Commons statement on the affair or to answer questions from journalists, both of which were criticised by Labour.

Tory modernisers fear Mr Cameron's drive to "detoxify" his party could permanently undermined by the combination of the Budget and the revelation that the Tories' treasurer Peter Cruddas offered potential donors dinner in the Prime Minister's Downing Street apartment if they gave £250,000 to the party.

The public too look set to need more convincing as a poll for i puts Labour 10 points ahead, the highest lead in a ComRes poll for seven years.

Labour will today keep up the pressure on the Prime Minister by challenging him over Mr Cruddas's suggestion to undercover reporters from The Sunday Times that the Tories might be able to find a way round the law banning foreign donations.

It also emerged that one of Mr Cameron's guests runs an oil trading company that stands to make millions from the new British-backed government in Libya. Another invitee gave an interview in which he said he "had it first-hand" from "very senior" members of the Government that Mr Cameron would oppose a European financial transaction tax.

On a torrid day for the Conservatives, Downing Street was forced to release a list of 12 major donors who were invited with their partners to four dinners in Mr Cameron's flat. Between them the guests had given or lent the party almost £18m since Mr Cameron became leader. A second list of five donors invited for lunches at Chequers was released later.

In remarks before making a speech on dementia, Mr Cameron confirmed that in future the Conservatives would publish a register of major donors.

The Government dispatched Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, to make a statement in the Commons. Amid rowdy scenes, Ed Miliband accused Mr Cameron of showing "utter contempt" for the Commons by failing to attend. "I think we all know why," the Labour leader said. "He has got something to hide." He called for an inquiry.

Mr Maude was almost drowned out by Labour shouts of "Where's Cameron?" He said Conservatives were ready to accept a cap on donations, but only if it applied not only to individuals and companies but to trade unions too – which Labour has resisted.