Conservatives' funding list reveals leading fox-hunter as key donor

ONE OF Britain's leading pro-hunting figures was revealed as a major donor to the Tories yesterday when the party published an expanded list of its backers.

David Samworth, chairman of the Quorn Hunt and millionaire food manufacturer, was named as one of 83 individuals or businesses who had donated more than pounds 5,000 in the past year.

The list, which was unveiled by the Conservatives in an attempt to prove it no longer depended on a small number of wealthy individuals, showed that the number of major backers had trebled since 1998.

Among the bigger names on the list are Tarmac plc, the former Express newspapers proprietor Lord Stevens and the spread-betting firm City Index Ltd. Robin Hodgson, deputy chairman of the Conservatives and head of its voluntary wing, is also named as a big backer, as are Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, the former Tory minister, and Sir Stanley Kalms, the head of Dixons.

Michael Ashcroft, the Tory treasurer, whose pounds 3m-worth of donations has kept the Tories afloat in recent years, is still on the list. Mr Ashcroft, who faced allegations earlier this year about his financial affairs in Belize, is understood to have contributed up to a third of the party's funds as he helped it stave off bankruptcy in the wake of the general election.

Mr Samworth's donations are sure to trigger criticism from anti-hunt campaigners as the Quorn is the richest and most famous hunt in Britain. The Tories have repeatedly attacked Labour for receiving pounds 1m from an anti-hunt group, the International Fund for Animal Welfare, before the last election.

Listed recently as one of the 300 wealthiest men in the UK, the 57-year- old entrepreneur made his fortune from Melton Mowbray pork pies and Ginsters pie chain. Although not revealed as an individual donor, his family firm, Samworth Brothers (Holdings) Ltd, were on the list published yesterday.

Most of the individuals and companies on the list are unknowns and the party refused to give details beyond their initials or company names. Among the more well-known names is Henry Keswick, husband of Tessa Keswick, adviser to Kenneth Clarke when Chancellor.

Tory chairman Michael Ancram said that the names indicated the progress that had been made in meeting the Tory leader's pledge to expand the support and financial backing of the party.

"This new list of donors to the Conservative Party proves that we have succeeded in one of our key aims to broaden the base of party funding. We now have 83 donors over pounds 5,000 - that's almost three times as many big donors in the year to March 1999 than we had in the previous year," he said. "I am especially grateful to Michael Ashcroft for his efforts in finding many more people prepared to help finance the Conservative party."

But a Labour party spokesman said last night that the figures had failed to clear up the lack of transparency in Tory funding and claimed that Mr Ashcroft's influence may be greater than thought.

"The real story behind these figures is the Tories' reliance on one or two major donors. Without them, this historic party would be bankrupt. The way they declare their finances conceals the truth," he said. "We note that Mr Hague has still not picked up our challenge to begin straightaway declaring the exact amount of donations given. Why not? What have the Tories got to hide?"

However, Labour's attacks on the Tories and their millionaire backers have been blunted in recent weeks with the revelation that former Science Minister Lord Sainsbury had donated pounds 2m to its own coffers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

MBDA UK Ltd: Electronic Sub-System Design Verification engineer

Flexible working, annual bonus, pension & more.: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the oppor...

MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Architect

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity? MBDA has e...

MBDA UK Ltd: Test Systems Design Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity?MBDA has en...

MBDA UK Ltd: PCB Technologies Engineer

Competitive salary & benefits: MBDA UK Ltd: What’s the opportunity?MBDA has en...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor