politics

Boris Johnson urged to explain 'advisory board' of rich donors with access to PM


The exclusive ‘Advisory Board’ is said to be made up of donors who have handed the Tories at least £250,000 – or are a friend of party money man Ben Elliot

Boris Johnson and Tory money man Ben Elliot
Boris Johnson and Tory money man Ben Elliot

A secretive ‘Advisory Board’ of wealthy Tory donors has “privileged access” to Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak, it has been reported.

The exclusive club was founded and managed by top Tory money man Ben Elliot – who also runs Quintissentially, a ‘concierge’ service for the rich.

Regular meetings and calls have been held between members of the elite group, which was set up to connect party backers with its top figures, according to the Financial Times.

While the membership of the club is a closely-guarded secret, it’s said members need to donate at least £250,000, or be “a friend of Ben” to gain access.

Eight donors gave exactly £250,000 to the party in 2020, with three giving the sum so far in 2021, according to Electoral Commission figures.

Those who have given at least that amount include Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a former Russian deputy finance minister, hedge fund manager Alan Howard, theatre producer John Gore and Rosemary Said, the wife of Wafic Said who helped broker Britain’s biggest arms sale – the Al-Yamamah deal.








Members of the exclusive club get “privileged access” to the Prime Minister
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Image:

Zuma Press/PA Images)



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The Mirror revealed earlier this year wealthy Tory donors had paid £9,845 each to attend a virtual “summer party” over Zoom with Mr Johnson and Mr Sunak.

Labour said it appeared the so-called “Advisory Board” was a means for a “select group of elite donors to gain privileged access” to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

The Conservatives said an advisory board meets occasionally and receives political updates.

Labour Party chairwoman Anneliese Dodds said: “This appears to be less of an advisory board than a means for a select group of elite donors to gain privileged access to the Prime Minister and the Chancellor.

“Whether it is crony contracts or links to controversial developers, Conservative ministers always seem to be acting in the interests of their donors rather than the British people.”





She added: “The Conservative Party needs to explain what access this group had to the Prime Minister and Chancellor, what they have used that access to lobby for, and why they think it’s OK for there to be one rule for high-ranking Conservatives and another rule for everyone else.”

A Conservative Party spokesman said: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with the law.

“Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process. The alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals.”









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