26/03/2012

Cameron Refuses To Reveal No 10 Dinner Guests

Prime Minister David Cameron has refused to reveal who has been invited to dinner at his home, saying that such details are “private”.

The request was made after the Sunday Times filmed co-treasurer Peter Cruddas saying Tory party donors could gain influence at No 10's policy committee.

Ministerial aides at Number 10 have said it will not reveal any details about the guest list because Cameron’s Downing Street flat is used as his private family home and he - not the taxpayer - foots the hospitality bill.

Labour is demanding an independent inquiry after Mr Cruddas's claims, which were filmed by undercover Sunday Times reporters, came to light over the weekend. The matter has also been reported to the Metropolitan Police.

Mark Adams, a Labour supporter and lobbyist who prompted the Sunday Times investigation and later contacted the police, told the BBC, "Of course we would all expect that in return for the money there is at least an invitation to a reception.

"But actually having that level of access, private access - it seems the prime minister is reluctant to even reveal who these people are who dine with him privately - I find it truly astonishing that that level of access, secret access... can be achieved in return for a substantial donation."

Labour leader Ed Miliband said the matter could not be "swept under the carpet" and a "proper independent investigation" was needed.

"We need to know what happened. These are so serious, these allegations, because it's about the way that policy is made, we've just had a Budget in which the tax rate has been cut at the top of the income scale.

"We need to know what access was paid for, if access was paid for, and what contributions were made and the interaction between the prime minister, the chancellor and Conservative Party donors."

During the secret filming of Mr Cruddas he initially said that it was not possibly to buy access to the primer minister, but then went on to discuss what access different size donations would get.

He was filmed saying that a donation of £200,000 or £250,000 gave "premier league" access to party leaders, including private dinners with Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne. He also suggested that any such donor could have their feedback on political plans fed back to the party's policy committee.

"Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league… what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners," he told the undercover reporters.

Speaking on Sunday, Mr Cameron said the incident should not have taken place and has promised a "proper party inquiry".

"This is not the way we raise money in the Conservative Party. It shouldn't have happened," he said.

(H)


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