Cameron's new treasurer quits before he starts

David Cameron faced embarrassment last night after a multimillionaire former tax exile recruited to raise money for the Conservative Party resigned before even starting the job.

David Rowland, whose family has an estimated fortune of £730m, returned from Guernsey last year to donate almost £3m to the Tories in the run-up to the general election.

His appointment in June as treasurer, with the task of refilling party coffers depleted by the campaign, sparked a flurry of accusations about the business affairs and private life of the notoriously publicity-shy property magnate.

Mr Rowland, the son of a scrap-metal dealer who left school without qualifications, became a tax exile in the late 1960s after making his first million in property dealing by the age of 23.

He went on to build a vast corporate empire founded on company acquisitions. His involvement in a takeover of the Scottish football team Hibernian in the 1980s led to him being described in a Commons motion as a "shady financier".

In a brief statement issued by Tory headquarters he confirmed that he had decided not to take up the post, which was due to begin in October.

"Unfortunately my developing business interests mean I will not have the time to give that role the focus and attention it deserves," he said.

Mr Cameron has endured uncomfortable headlines in recent months over his links with wealthy business figures and there will be fresh questions over whether Tory chiefs examined the background of their millionaire recruit in sufficient detail.

Liberal Democrat MPs have demanded an investigation into the tax affairs of the billionaire Topshop boss Sir Philip Green – who handed ownership of his hugely profitable fashion empire to his wife, who lives in Monaco – after he was appointed as an efficiency adviser to the Government.

And during the election campaign the Conservatives faced repeated challenges over the tax status of their former treasurer, Lord Ashcroft, following the disclosure that he was a so-called "non-dom".

Conservative sources and friends of Mr Rowland said he made the decision not to accept the post entirely on his own and had not been put under any pressure by the party's high command.

They added that he had recently bought a bank in Luxemburg and the acquisition was taking more of his time and energy than he had anticipated.

He now jointly controls his business interests with his son Jonathan. According to the Sunday Times Rich List, the value of his interests grew by £100m in 2009 alone.

Mr Rowland, 65, who once paid £20,000 for a portrait of the Prime Minister David Cameron, became fully domiciled in Britain in advance of the election, enabling him to make donations to the Conservatives totalling £2.7m.

He stressed yesterday that he would remain a "deeply committed" supporter of the party. He added: "David Cameron is a great leader of the party and of our country and I will continue to actively support him and the party in the years ahead."

A spokesman for the party said: "We understand Mr Rowland's reasons for not taking up the role and remain grateful for his support."

But the Labour MP John Spellar MP said: "To lose one Tory treasurer with question marks over his tax affairs might be regarded as a misfortune, but to lose two looks like carelessness. What is it with the Tories that they keep picking people with questions over their tax affairs – and what do their Lib Dem allies make of all this?"

Lord Oakeshott of Seagrove Bay, a Liberal Democrat treasury spokesman, said: "It must be right for any British people in prominent positions in public life to be firmly resident and domiciled in the UK for tax purposes." Stanley Fink, who is currently the Conservatives' co-treasurer with Michael Spencer, will continue as sole treasurer when Mr Spencer steps down after the Tory conference in October.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
A monstrous idea? Body transplants might no longer be science fiction
Science An Italian neurosurgeon believes so - and it's not quite as implausible as it sounds, says Steve Connor
Demba Ba (right) celebrates after Besiktas win on penalties
footballThere was no happy return to the Ataturk Stadium, where the Reds famously won Champions League
Arts and Entertainment
Natural beauty: Aidan Turner stars in the new series of Poldark
arts + ents
Mia Freedman, editorial director of the Mamamia website, reads out a tweet she was sent.
arts + ents
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
The write stuff: masters of story-telling James Joyce, left, and Thomas Hardy
arts + ents...begging to differ, John Walsh can't even begin to number the ways
Image from a flyer at the CPAC event where Nigel Farage will be speaking
2015 General Election

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Bookkeeper

£23000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small, friendly, proactive...

Recruitment Genius: Photographic Event Crew

£14500 - £22800 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developers - .NET / ASP.NET / WebAPI / JavaScript

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Software Developer is required to join a lea...

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Solicitor - City

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: A first rate opportunity to join a top ranking...

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower