Comment on Sunday Times Revelations about Tory Treasurer Offering Influence for Donations
It is truly shocking that in 2012 a senior official of the Conservative Party should be recorded apparently offering a reward, namely access to the Prime Minister and influence over public policy, in exchange for party donations.
This is the sort of corruption that Lord Nolan’s Committee for Standards in Public Life sought to stamp out 20 years ago. The recordings, in my personal view as a lawyer specialising in economic crime, might raise a prima facie case of offences under Bribery Act 2010.
It is only months after Tory MP Mark Pritchard alleged in Parliament that the Prime Minister’s Office offered to bestow a public position on him or victimise him depending on how he voted as an MP on a certain issue. The man in the street would call that bribery too.
An internal Tory inquiry is insufficient. Not least for public confidence in the Coalition, there must be an independent investigation. The official in question should be asked on oath who told him to offer access, which Downing Street staff he thought pay special regard to the views of high-value party donors and what is his basis for thinking that they do. The investigator should examine records of access to Downing Street officials and records of donations to see whether they coincide in a way that calls out for an explanation.
If these matters are not fully and independently investigated the Prime Minister risks having an air not of his hero Disraeli but more like Richard Nixon.