Key Conservative benefactor Caledonia Investments forced by shareholders to cut links to party

 

Associate Business Editor

One of the Conservatives’ most reliable and vocal supporters has bowed to pressure from its independent shareholders and abandoned the party.

Caledonia Investments, the investment vehicle of the Cayzer shipping dynasty, handed regular cheques over to the Tory party, in particular to individual constituencies, in the run-up to the 2010 general election.

The company’s late chairman, Peter Buckley, even went so far as to publicly attack the former Labour Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, in a 2008 Caledonia results statement, saying: “Shorn of integrity and economic competence, rooster Brown has even less feathers than rooster Blair and lacks the latter’s knack of preening himself.”

However, that stance proved highly controversial with independent shareholders in the trust. Despite its close association with the Cayzer family, the company, an investment trust that invests in other companies, is listed on the London Stock Exchange.

Between 2008 and 2010, it suffered a succession of ever larger dissenting votes at its annual meetings on the issue of political donations.

Information on the Electoral Commission’s database shows they were heard. Since the 2010 election resulted in the creation of the Coalition, the company hasn’t given a penny.

By contrast, the Cayzer Trust Company, which oversees the family’s stake in the trust and is also headquartered at Cayzer House in London, has handed over £67,500.

Caledonia’s regular cheques to David Cameron’s party and its constituency associations during the previous parliament saw nearly three times that amount – £188,000 – donated from the beginning of 2008 until the 2010 general election.

Caledonia notably targeted particular constituencies for its largesse, including Sutton and Cheam, which Philippa Stroud – the driving force behind the Centre for Social Justice, established by the Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith – lost to the Liberal Democrats by just 1,608 votes after achieving a 1.7 per cent swing in her favour.

Another beneficiary was David Mundell who has, since 2005, been the only Tory to represent a Scottish constituency and who increased his majority to 4,194 at the last election.

For Caledonia to repeat the pattern at the forthcoming election, it would have had to submit a resolution before shareholders at next month’s annual meeting to obtain their permission on donations.

No such motion has been submitted in the company’s notice of its coming AGM.

Dissenting AGM votes are often embarrassing to publicly-listed companies, and usually indicate a high level of unhappiness. Larger shareholders generally only make such moves after first attempting to address the issues in private.

Caledonia has a long and colourful history, which is inextricably linked to the Cayzer family. The clan’s forebear, Sir Charles Cayzer, founded the shipping business, Clan Line Steamers, the world’s largest cargo carrying line, in 1878.

They later diversified their business interests, but Caledonia has overseen the family’s investments for decades. However, there was a spectacular bust-up between two branches of the family in 2002, when dissidents sought to release their funds.

A deal was eventually reached, and the Cayzers remain the biggest single shareholders in the company which still employs family members up to and including its chief executive, Will Wyatt. He is the great-great-grandson of Charles Cayzer and took over from Tim Ingram, who had been the first non-Cayzer to run the company.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
FIFA President Sepp Blatter reacts during a news conference in Zurich June 1, 2011
news
News
people
Life and Style
food + drink
News
peopleKatie Hopkins criticises River Island's 'seize the day' bags for trying to normalise epilepsy
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Nicole Kidman plays Grace Kelly in the film, which was criticised by Monaco’s royal family
film'I survived it, but I’ll never be the same,' says Arash Amel
Life and Style
Retailers should make good any consumer goods problems that occur within two years
tech(and what to do if you receive it)
Life and Style
healthIf one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
Life and Style
tech
News
i100
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

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K YR1: SThree: At SThree, we like to be dif...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Web Developer

£30 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software / Web Developer (PHP / MYSQL) i...

Guru Careers: Account Executive

£18 - 20k + Benefits: Guru Careers: An Account Executive is needed to join one...

Guru Careers: Software Developer / Software Engineer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Software Engineer i...

Day In a Page

Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor
The ZX Spectrum has been crowd-funded back into play - with some 21st-century tweaks

The ZX Spectrum is back

The ZX Spectrum was the original - and for some players, still the best. David Crookes meets the fans who've kept the games' flames lit
Grace of Monaco film panned: even the screenwriter pours scorn on biopic starring Nicole Kidman

Even the screenwriter pours scorn on Grace of Monaco biopic

The critics had a field day after last year's premiere, but the savaging goes on
Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people used to believe about periods

Menstrual Hygiene Day: The strange ideas people once had about periods

If one was missed, vomiting blood was seen as a viable alternative
The best work perks: From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)

The quirks of work perks

From free travel cards to making dreams come true (really)
Is bridge the latest twee pastime to get hip?

Is bridge becoming hip?

The number of young players has trebled in the past year. Gillian Orr discovers if this old game has new tricks
Long author-lists on research papers are threatening the academic work system

The rise of 'hyperauthorship'

Now that academic papers are written by thousands (yes, thousands) of contributors, it's getting hard to tell workers from shirkers
The rise of Lego Clubs: How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships

The rise of Lego Clubs

How toys are helping children struggling with social interaction to build better relationships
5 best running glasses

On your marks: 5 best running glasses

Whether you’re pounding pavements, parks or hill passes, keep your eyes protected in all weathers
Raif Badawi: Wife pleads for fresh EU help as Saudi blogger's health worsens

Please save my husband

As the health of blogger Raif Badawi worsens in prison, his wife urges EU governments to put pressure on the Saudi Arabian royal family to allow her husband to join his family in Canada
Birthplace of Arab Spring in turmoil as angry Tunisians stage massive sit-in over lack of development

They shall not be moved: jobless protesters bring Tunisia to a halt

A former North African boom town is wasting away while its unemployed citizens stick steadfastly to their sit-in
David Hasselhoff's new show 'Hoff the Record': What's it like working with a superstar?

Hanging with the Hoff

Working with David Hasselhoff on his new TV series was an education for Ella Smith