Labour fund-raiser holds on to post after invitations row

THE Labour official described by party spokesmen as "politically naive" and "middle ranking" after weekend disclosures over big-business donors wanting access to Number 10, is still in charge of "high- value" fundraising, it emerged yesterday.

Amanda Delew, nicknamed "De Lute" by colleagues, is one of the two "high-value" fundraisers for the party at the Millbank headquarters. Chris Smith, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, played down the significance of the internal document written by Ms Delew in May after Labour's election victory and leaked to a Sunday paper, which said big donors would expect access to Number 10.

"The moment it got anywhere near senior officials they said this is completely inappropriate, not something that any party - any government -should do." It was leaked to embarrass Tony Blair in the wake of reports that he had offered access to Rupert Murdoch. The officials said Ms Delew was "politically naive" and not head of the department. The memo was so obviously inappropriate it was "binned" by the head of her unit, a source said. But Ms Delew, who aimed to raise pounds 15m by 2002, is still a leading player in the search for big donations.

She wrote a memo which said: "Major donors expect to be invited to Number 10; if this cannot take place then income levels may be affected."

David Heathcoat Amory, shadow chief secretary to the treasury, said he would be writing to the Cabinet Secretary asking for an investigation into what he described as "the cash for access scandal".

"Labour's plans to use Number 10 as a fund-raising venue is an abuse of office. It is yet further evidence of their arrogance and contempt for accepted standards of probity. Labour's high-value donors programme appears to be intended to be a `Gold access card' to the Prime Minister."

Those charges were denied by Labour Party sources, who said that Downing Street was not used for party fundraising events. "It would be wrong to use taxpayers' hospitality to raise party funds, but it does raise the question about what is acceptable," said a source.

Ms Delew is on maternity leave and is shortly to have a baby. She was shocked to see her memo leaked 10 months after it was binned.

In her early 30s, Ms Delew is a committed member of the Labour Party. Her background is in fundraising for charities.

A friend said: "She is very professional, and personable but her background is in fundraising, not party politics."

Her memorandum was sent to a limited number of people within the Labour Party office at John Smith House, before officials moved to Millbank Tower.

There are fears within the party that it was leaked by someone who may have been disenchanted at being sacked after the election, as the party had to cut down its staffing numbers.