How much for dinner with David Cameron? Tories reveal list of ‘mega-rich donors’ who spend £50,000 to dine with the PM

Members of the exlusive ‘Leader’s Group’ include some of the country’s richest hedge-fund managers, oil executives and business chiefs – almost every single one of whom is male

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Indy Politics

It is a list that includes the founder of Betfair, the former chairman of Newcastle United, the son-in-law of Bernie Ecclestone and a host of bankers and oil tycoons, but what do they all have in common – aside from their wealth?

Ahead of a new report into political party donations from the Electoral Commission today, the Conservative Party has revealed the names of those belonging to its most exclusive dinner party guestlist.

In a page on its website that boasts of how the Tories “unlike Labour… are not funded by trade unions”, the party has listed the 32 people who pay a minimum of £50,000 a year for access to the Prime Minister himself, along with a host of other senior Conservative ministers.

The “Leader’s Group”, the party says, promises its members invitations to “dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches”.

Almost every single member of the group is male, with the possible exception of Anastasia Sergeef, who directs Sovereign Business Jets Ltd alongside her husband Serge Sergeef. They are listed together as representatives of the private jet charter service, having donated an estimated £60,000.

Aside from audiences with David Cameron, those on the list have the chance to speak over dinner with the Chancellor George Osborne, the Home Secretary Theresa May and the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond.

Between them, members are believed to have donated around £17 million to the Tories came to power in the Coalition in 2010.

The latest list details those who were members from 1 July to 30 September, and includes some new names since a similar release at the start of the year.

Among the newer members were James Stunt, who is thought to have donated the minimum £50,000. An art dealer known for his flamboyant lifestyle and extensive car collection, he is married to the daughter of Formula 1 mogul Bernie Ecclestone’s daughter Petra.

Sir John Hall is also new to the list. The life president and former chairman of Newcastle United, was also included on the list. He remains an active part of the set up at the Premier League club, only last month issuing a rallying call to fans to get behind the new chair Mike Ashley and manager Alan Pardew.

The member believed to have donated the most to the party since 2010 is Lord Michael Farmer. Known as “Mr Copper”, the metals trader was made a Tory peer in September.

Sir Michael Heinze is another big spender included in the group. He is believed to have donated £1.8 million since 2010, and is a former banker at Goldman Sachs.

Others on the list include Alexander Temerko, a former oil executive and – according to the Financial Times – an associate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, one of Russia’s richest men who spent 10 years in jail from 2003.

Michael Gutman, managing director of Westfield in the UK, Kenneth Costa, former chairman of Lazard International, Edward Wray, the Betfair founder and Neil Ostrer, the hedge fund chief, are also on the list.

Responding to the publication of the list, Labour’s shadow Cabinet Office Minister Jonathan Ashworth said it showed the Tories’ “ever-greater reliance on big money from an increasingly small number of mega-rich donors”.

He said: “Ministers' dinner dates with donors are boosting Tory coffers. The Tories are wining and dining the very same millionaires who have been given a tax cut by this Tory-led Government.

“While the Tories are funded by millionaire donors, the biggest share of Labour’s income comes from individual members and working people.”

For the full list, visit the Conservative Party website.