'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".

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Assistant

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are a leading company in the field ...

Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Office Manager

£26041 - £34876 per annum: Recruitment Genius: There has never been a more exc...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen