Reject party donations from individuals linked to arms deals, Tory leadership candidates told

Electoral Commission records show wife of arms-deal fixer donated hundreds of thousands to Tory HQ in recent months

Ashley Cowburn
Political Correspondent
Sunday 09 June 2019 14:35
Comments
British armaments are being used to bomb Yemen
British armaments are being used to bomb Yemen

Tory leadership contenders have been called upon to make clear they would not accept cash donated to the party from individuals with links to the arms trade if they become prime minister.

The pressure comes after the most recent tranche of donations released by the Electoral Commission reveal the wife of an arms fixer involved in a huge multibillion pound deal with Saudi Arabia in the 1980s gifted hundreds of thousands in recent months.

Since September last year, Rosemary Said, who appears on the Electoral Commission records as Ann R Said, has donated £342,000 in total to the Tories.

In February alone, two payments were made – one of £175,000 and a second of £9,725. It was recorded by the Conservative Party with the electoral watchdog in April and published last week.

Ms Said's husband, Wafic Said, helped broker Britain's biggest arms sale – the Al-Yamamah deal – signed by then-prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985.

The deal was subject to an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, but the probe was discontinued in 2006 after an intervention by the former Labour prime minister Tony Blair amid concerns relations with the Saudi kingdom were being hindered.

Before 2000, Syrian-born billionaire Mr Said had himself donated to the Conservative Party, before rules were put in place only allowing those on the UK electoral register to give to political parties.

The Independent understands Ms Said, a UK citizen, is herself independently wealthy and her father was formerly a donor to the Conservative Party.

Deep pockets: Tory donors Rosemary and Wafic Said

Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, said: "Money linked to arms deals has no place in politics, but yet again the Tories have shown themselves willing to take large cash handouts from the rich and powerful, with almost of no exceptions.

"The fact of the matter is that under the Tories our democracy has become flooded with money, much of it from unknown sources and other countries. With Theresa May on her way out, all of the Tory leadership candidates must come forward and make clear they won't accept cash linked to arms deals."

Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade, added: "The Al-Yamamah deal exposed the deep links between the UK government, the arms industry and the Saudi dictatorship.

"The impact of those links is being felt every day by the people of Yemen, who are ensuring a brutal bombardment that UK-made jets are playing a central role in."

He added that no political party should be accepting money from those linked to arming or supporting human rights-abusing regimes.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: "All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with law."

The Said family declined to comment when approached by The Independent.

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