David Cameron must publish full details of his guests to his taxpayer-funded country home Chequers, Labour said today.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, shadow Cabinet Office minister Michael Dugher condemned the publication of the “annual” Chequers guest list, which was over a year late when it was quietly released on Friday evening.
The list only included guests who attended the Buckinghamshire grace-and-favour mansion at a cost to the taxpayer, and not the dozens whose visits were funded privately. Mr Dugher wrote that because Chequers is a public building and access to it is part of the Prime Minister’s privileges, the names of all guests should be revealed. Mr Cameron should also publish guests to Downing Street.
The MP for Barnsley East wrote: “The fact that the Conservative party may have nominally paid to host various people at Chequers cannot be used as a device to block transparency in relation to lobbyists and others gaining access to the Prime Minister and senior Government ministers.
“It appears that there is an attempt to buy out of transparency, which leaves the perception of a Chequers cover-up and reinforces the view that you are out of touch and consistently stand up for the wrong people.
“This also follows repeated refusals to give any details of meetings with Lynton Crosby, someone who we know is a paid lobbyist working for, amongst others, the cigarette industry.”
But the Tories hit back, accusing Labour of “hypocrisy” because Ed Miliband had promised to publish regular updates on his meetings with union general secretaries - yet the last time this happened was in March 2012.
A Tory source added: “We have been the most transparent Government ever, publishing expenses over £500 online and details of ministerial meetings. This is Grade A hypocrisy from Dugher but we would expect nothing less from one of Damian McBride’s apprentices.”
The published list reveals Mr Cameron entertained the emir of Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 World Cup, the provost of Eton and a string of Conservative and Liberal Democrat ministers. A separate list of guests to Chevening, Nick Clegg’s luxury entertaining mansion, reveals politicians, journalists and TV personalities, including a brace of national treasures - Joanna Lumley and Clare Balding.