Tory MPs say donors should be disclosed

Click to follow
Brian Mawhinney, the Conservative Party chairman, is coming under growing pressure to disclose the sources of large donations to Tory funds as his inquiries continue into money received from Serbian businessman Zoran Tancic.

Several Tory MPs yesterday said they agreed with the call from Lord Laing, a former Tory treasurer, for the party to make public the identities of all donors giving more than pounds 25,000.

Former Cabinet minister John Biffen said that, above a minimum, "all contributions should be made public - even more so in respect of contributions from foreigners".

David Wilshire, the Tory MP for Spelthorne who, like Mr Biffen, rebelled against the Prime Minister to vote in favour of the disclosure of MPs' outside earnings last November, said: "If there is public anxiety, then the way to put it to rest is to disclose. If it is something that is going to be used against us, then all the Nolan arguments apply."

Most Tory MPs, however, held back from calling on Dr Mawhinney to return "tainted" donations from Mr Tancic and the fugitive tycoon Asil Nadir. Stephen Day, Tory MP for Cheadle, told the Independent that the party should "think very carefully" about the public reaction to the Tancic and Nadir donations. "If I was party chairman I would put it as top priority to respond to public opinion on this," he said.

Meanwhile, the Tory Central Office inquiry has turned out to be more complex than party officials originally thought. Yesterday, the Independent revealed that Mr Tancic is in business with a Russian accused of "channelling state money" into his own pockets. And there have also been reports of a donation in 1992 from a different source connected to Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, who is wanted for war crimes. This donation was said to have been returned after the Prime Minister was warned about it by MI6.

Dr Mawhinney is still under pressure to return most of the pounds 440,000 donated by Asil Nadir, boss of the collapsed Polly Peck empire. Tory Central Office received a report three years ago from Touche Ross, the City accountants, confirming its view that pounds 365,000 of the donation had been stolen from the company.

Central Office again refused to comment yesterday.

Area treasurers' report for 1995-96