'Cash for peerages' row as Blair honours top donors

'Cronyism' controversy reignited as leaked list of new peers includes Labour's millionaire friends

In a move that will trigger a fresh row over "cash for honours", Mr Blair is to elevate to the Lords four businessmen who between them have given almost half a million pounds to the party.

A leaked list of forthcoming honours shows that Dr Chai Patel, a high- profile Labour donor who runs the Priory clinics, is among those who has been personally recommended for a peerage by Mr Blair.

The Prime Minister is also set to elevate to the peerage Sir Gulam Noon, who has made millions from ready-made curries and given more than £220,000 to Labour since 2001.

Mr Blair also plans to add to the next list of working peers businessmen who have been financially supportive of his flagship projects, including city academies.

The list includes Sir David Garrard, a millionaire property developer knighted in January 2003 for charity work, who gave £200,000 to Labour the following May. Sir David has been a leading sponsor of the Government's "academy schools" programme, contributing £2.4m to the flagship city academy in Bexley, south-east London.

The peerages are vetted by an independent committee of peers and there is no suggestion of impropriety. But the decision of the Prime Minister to award more peerages to prominent Labour donors is expected to reignite a fresh "cronyism" row and cause deep unease among Labour MPs. Last night, Tam Dalyell, a Labour party member for 50 years who, until his retirement as an MP earlier this year, was Father of the House of Commons, said: "This leaves Harold Wilson's notorious honours list in 1976 smelling like roses."

Another figure who has been recommended for a peerage is Barry Townsley, a millionaire stockbroker, who gave £6,000 to the Labour Party in May this year. Mr Townsley is reported to have given £10,000 to Frank Dobson's failed campaign to become Labour candidate for Mayor of London, as well as an estimated £5,000 to the Labour Party between 1998 and 2000-01.

The City figure has also been a generous supporter of the Government's Academy scheme, and is reported to have sponsored Stockley Academy in Hillingdon. He is believed to have invested around £1m in the Government's flagship educational scheme. City academies were set up by Mr Blair in an attempt to tackle underachievement in deprived urban areas but have been beset by controversy.

This is not the first time Mr Blair has faced criticism over awarding donors or Labour supporters honours.

The Prime Minister was heavily criticised last year when he appointed Dr Paul Drayson, a Labour donor who founded the vaccine company PowderJect, one of 23 new Labour peers.

The leaked list, obtained by The Independent on Sunday, marked "Restricted - Appointments", shows that Mr Blair has personally proposed the millionaire donors as peers.

Sir David Garrard was a co-founder of the Minerva Corporation, the property company that controlled the failed department store group Allders.

Dr Patel, one of the architects of the Government's policies on the elderly and an adviser on the Department of Health's older people's taskforce, is believed to have given more than £5,000 to Labour.

Sir Gulam, estimated to be worth £50m, founded Noon products in 1989, and expanded it into the Noon group. Knighted in 2002, he recently made an outspoken defence of Mr Blair's immigration policies. The multi-millionaire Muslim businessman, who employs more than 300 settled refugees at his food company's manufacturing base, said that immigrants who did not respect British values should "get out of the country".

Those who refused to embrace British traditions should "go back to whatever you regard as your home country and leave us in peace". His remarks were regarded within Whitehall as "helpful" to Downing Street.

The new list of peers does not include Rachel Whetstone, former chief aide to Michael Howard, the outgoing Tory leader, or Lakshmi Mittal, the steel magnate. Reports that they were likely to obtain peerages were incorrect.

Mr Blair faced criticism last year for putting Labour "cronies" in the Lords.

Last year Mr Blair's personal pollster, Philip Gould, and the former Labour Party general secretary Margaret McDonagh were given peerages. Another prominent Labour donor given a peerage by Mr Blair is Lord Sainsbury, who is the science minister. The papers show that Downing Street believes the new peers will make a "valuable contribution to the work of the House of Lords".

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Voices
Oscar Pistorius is led out of court in Pretoria. Pistorius received a five-year prison sentence for culpable homicide by judge Thokozile Masipais for the killing of his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp
voicesThokozile Masipa simply had no choice but to jail the athlete
Arts and Entertainment
Sister Cristina Scuccia sings 'Like a Virgin' in Venice
music

Like Madonna, Sister Cristina Scuccia's video is also set in Venice

Arts and Entertainment
James Blunt's debut album Back to Bedlam shot him to fame in 2004
music

Singer says the track was 'force-fed down people's throats'

News
i100
Life and Style
The Tinder app has around 10 million users worldwide

techThe original free dating app will remain the same, developers say

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

IT Project Manager

Competitive: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client based in Chelmsford a...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

Business Intelligence Specialist - work from home

£40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and growing IT Consultancy fir...

IT Manager

£40000 - £45000 per annum + pension, healthcare,25 days: Ashdown Group: An est...

Day In a Page

Two super-sized ships have cruised into British waters, but how big can these behemoths get?

Super-sized ships: How big can they get?

Two of the largest vessels in the world cruised into UK waters last week
British doctors on brink of 'cure' for paralysis with spinal cord treatment

British doctors on brink of cure for paralysis

Sufferers can now be offered the possibility of cure thanks to a revolutionary implant of regenerative cells
Let's talk about loss

We need to talk about loss

Secrecy and silence surround stillbirth
Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Will there be an all-female mission to Mars?

Women may be better suited to space travel than men are
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album