Labour in row over pounds 5.3m honours sale

LABOUR WAS embroiled in a new "cash for honours" row yesterday after a leaked document revealed its list of rich donors who had pledged to give the party pounds 5.3m this year. The Tories seized on the internal report, claiming it provided new evidence that businessmen giving cash to Labour could expect knighthoods or peerages.

Lord Gavron, the publisher, is listed as giving Labour pounds 500,000 in June, the month in which he was made a life peer. Sir Maurice Hatter, an electronics tycoon and chairman of IMO Precision Controls, promised Labour pounds 1m in April, the leaked document shows. Two months later he was knighted in the Queen's birthday honours list.

Sir Maurice, who gave Labour pounds 5,000 before the last general election, insisted he had not pledged a further pounds 1m. Labour did not deny the document was genuine, but the party said it contained "substantial inaccuracies".

The report suggests the party team which chases "high value" donors received pounds 1m in the first six months of this year, with pledges of a further pounds 4.3m. Some of the promises have not materialised.

The document shows 11 supporters pledged a total of pounds 3m after Tony Blair was the star guest at a pounds 500-a-head gala dinner at London's Hilton Hotel in April. Three businessmen are listed as promising pounds 1m each this year - Sir Maurice; David Goldman, chairman of BATM Advanced Communications, a telecommunications supplier; and Haris Sophoclides, a property developer.

Felix Dennis, the chairman of Dennis Publishing, has given pounds 167,000, says the report. Gulam Noon, founder of the ready-made curry business Noon Products, has donated pounds 100,000.

William Hague, the Tory leader, accused Mr Blair and Labour of "sickening hypocrisy". He said: "The Prime Minister is up to his neck in it, receiving large donations from some people, some of whom have received, or will expect to receive, favourable treatment as a result."

A Labour spokesman said: "We do not see a list like this as embarrassing. We are very positive about the fact that we both seek and are able to attract donations from important figures in the business world."

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