Conservatives reported to Metropolitan Police over ‘cash for honours’ claims

SNP has written to Metropolitan Police to ask for formal probe into Tory peerages

Adam Forrest
Monday 08 November 2021 21:37
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Owen Paterson: Tory minister claims no 'wider problem' with corruption in politics

Scotland Yard has been asked to investigate “cash for honours” allegations linked to the Conservative Party’s appointments to the House of Lords.

SNP Commons leader Pete Wishart has written to Metropolitan Police commissioner Dame Cressida Dick to raise “potential criminal misconduct” regarding the procurement of honours and peerages.

He wants the probe to focus on claims that nine of the party’s former treasures have been elevated to the Lords since the Tories returned to power in 2010.

An investigation by Open Democracy and the Sunday Times also alleged that 15 of the last 16 Tory party treasurers have been offered a seat in the House of Lords having each donated more than £3m to the party.

In his letter, Mr Wishart added: “In total, 22 of the Conservative Party’s biggest financial contributors have been made members of the House of Lords in the past 11 years. Together they have donated some £54m to the Tories.

He added: “I believe that it is only right to investigate whether these donations were, in fact, rewarded with honours.”

The Tories have denied any link between the donations and nominations. Earlier on Monday, international trade secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said it was good to have a “rich mix” in the Lords, and claimed there was no “wider problem” with corruption in politics.

Fellow cabinet minister George Eustice also claimed donors were “philanthropists who give huge amounts to charity, who have been very successful in business and, therefore, on those grounds ought to be considered for the Lords”.

Amid the widening series of sleaze scandals engulfing Boris Johnson’s government, Mr Wishart told the Commons: “The true shocker of the past couple of days is cash for honours 2.0.”

He added: “It now seems that nearly all the past treasurers of the Conservative Party of later years are in that place, wearing their ermine. The only characteristic they seem to have … is the fact they’re able to give several million pounds to this government.”

Mr Wishart went on: “I have now asked the Metropolitan Police to investigate the activities of the Conservative Party and the awarding of places in the House of Lords.”

The Lib Dems made clear they also support a police investigation into “cash for honours” claims. Lord Richard Newby, the party’s leader in the Lords, said: “These allegations must be investigated fully so we can get to the bottom of this murky saga.”

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called on Mr Johnson to make sure no MP found guilty of “egregious breaches” of the MPs’ code of conduct can ever be recommended for a peerage.

“The government can’t reward bad behaviour and corruption with a job for life making the laws of the land,” said the Labour leader.

Downing Street has made clear there is no place to Owen Paterson – the former Tory MP at the centre of the storm over lobbying and conduct rules – in the Lords at some future date.

Asked during a visit to whether Mr Paterson could be in line for a peerage, Mr Johnson said: “There has been absolutely no discussion of that.”

Sir Keir also called for a ban on “paid directorships and consultancy roles”, as well as measures to end the “revolving door” between ministerial positions jobs and private sector big business.

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