Conservative election strategist Lynton Crosby has been knighted for his service to politics – almost a year to the day since he helped the party secure a shock victory at the General Election.
It comes as Zac Goldsmith’s Conservative campaign for mayor of London – run by Mr Crosby’s communications firm CTF Comms – faces intense criticism for its negative campaigning and attempt to link Muslim rival Sadiq Khan's to Islamist extremists.
Mr Goldsmith's attempt to succeed Boris Johnson looked to have come unstuck after polls put Mr Khan well in the lead, with the results due late on Friday.
According to the Press Association, after receiving his knighthood from Prince Charles at Buckingham Palace, the Australian strategist refused to comment on whether Mr Goldsmith’s campaign had been too negative.
Instead he said in a written statement: "I am truly honoured to receive this award in recognition of my service to politics in the UK and especially proud that my family can rightly share in and enjoy the recognition.
"It is also recognition for the thousands of candidates, campaign staff, activists, volunteers and my company's professional colleagues who I've had the great fortune to work alongside in the UK - across elections over the past decade.
"It is their hard work and commitment in fighting for a cause they believe in and unfailing faith in focusing on the people that matter - the voting public - that have contributed to the achievement of politics and campaign successes."
There is no suggestion that Mr Crosby played any personal role in the Mr Goldsmith's campaign.
Labour MP David Lammy posted on his Twitter account: “Hours after polls close in the ugliest and most divisive campaign I can remember, Lynton Crosby receives knighthood for ‘political service’”.
Former adviser to Ed Miliband, Stewart Wood, said: “Lynton Crosby gets his knighthood on the day Tory recriminations about his dog-whistle London mayoral campaign begin”.
Additional reporting by Press Association
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