Ashcroft was pounds 1m donor to Tories

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The Independent Online
WILLIAM HAGUE faced fresh claims of Tory "sleaze" last night after it was confirmed that his party treasurer, Michael Ashcroft, was the mystery donor of pounds 1m to Conservative funds. Mr Ashcroft, the millionaire former owner of security firm ADT, donated the cash in the past year through a trust rather than as an individual, the party admitted.

The Tories' annual accounts stated that the money was given by "a connected party" of Mr Ashcroft, but senior sources told The Independent that the sum came from The Kensington Trust, a body funded by the businessman.

Mr Ashcroft, who heads Carlisle Holdings, an pounds 80mGuernsey-registered security and cleaning company, emerges, as a result, as one of the Tories' biggest backers.

The Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Stephen Byers, said that Mr Ashcroft had been a tax exile for years and the whole issue raised serious questions over Tory finances. He said: "On being elected leader, William Hague committed himself to openness and transparency in funding of the Tory party. This reveals just how hollow those assurances were."

A Tory spokesman said that no one had been misled by the entry in the accounts and denied that the move was a tax dodge.