Tory donor ‘paid £100,000 for breakfast with Boris Johnson’

But apparently the “event” has yet to happen.

www.independent.co.uk

The major Conservative Party donor at the centre of an alleged “cash for access” row paid £100,000 for a breakfast date with Boris Johnson, it has emerged.

Business tycoon Mohamed Amersi is said to have paid for the early morning meeting with the prime minister after winning a fundraising dinner auction in November 2019.

The £99,500 donation to Tory HQ was reported to the Electoral Commission last January – but Mr Amersi is yet to get his breakfast with Mr Johnson, according to the Sunday Times.

Mr Amersi revealed last week that a group of wealthy Tory donors known as the “advisory board” had been developed to connect the party’s biggest financial backers with ministers.

A client of Tory co-chair Ben Elliot’s concierge company Quintessentially, Mr Amersi said the donors’ group worked in a similar way to the private firm. “One needs to cough up £250,000 per annum or be a friend of Ben.”

Frustrated by his failure to get his breakfast meeting with Mr Johnson, Mr Amersi reportedly emailed Mr Elliot in June 2020 to complain.

“I know this is unlikely to happen until full lockdown is over but can you ensure this is co-ordinated,” Mr Elliot then wrote to colleagues at Tory HQ. “Who is our internal liaison?”

It has also emerged that the Conservative Party made several payments to Mr Elliot’s company Hod Hill last year.

The party said the payments funded “administrative support” so Hod Hill co-director Jakob Widecki could work with Mr Elliot at Tory HQ, according to the Sunday Times.

It comes as new analysis by The Independent shows just ten wealthy people account for a quarter of all the donations made by individuals to the Tory Party since Mr Johnson became prime minister.

The ten super-rich donors have given a combined sum of just over £10m to the Tories since he entered No 10 – more than 25 per cent of the £38.6m received from individuals in the past two years.

Mr Amersi sits just outside the list of top ten donors, having given £189,000 since Mr Johnson entered No 10. He previously gave almost £300,000 to the party during Theresa May’s three years in Downing Street.

Labour MP Anneliese Dodds, the party’s chair, said the Conservatives had “serious questions to answer” about their dependence on big donors.

The frontbencher told The Independent: “We need to know why the Tories have become so reliant on huge donations from a select group of super wealthy individuals – and what it is that these elite donors are being given in return.

“Boris Johnson has created a cash for access culture in the Conservative Party … He needs to break his silence and explain what he plans to do to ensure there isn’t one rule for senior Conservatives and their cronies, and another rule for everyone else.”

Sir Keir Starmer has demanded that the Tories reveal who was in the party’s club for big donors. “We can’t have this sleaze, this murky cash-for-access,” he said.

Conservative Party co-chair Amanda Milling has insisted that government policy “is in no way influenced by the donations the party receives – they are entirely separate”.

She said: “All political parties raise money and accept donations in order to pay their staff and campaign in elections.”

Meanwhile, Labour has accused former chancellor Phillip Hammond of breaking the ministerial code, after he reportedly wrote to the Treasury to advocate for a bank he now works for as a paid adviser.

Mr Hammond emailed Charles Roxburgh, the Treasury’s second most senior civil servant, in July 2020 to explain the benefits of a “toolkit” developed by OakNorth to assess borrowers, according to the Sunday Telegraph.

Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, claimed the Tory MP had violated the code of conduct for former ministers and called for the cabinet secretary to investigate. “If the rules are treated with such derision by the former chancellor then the whole system is rotten.”

Lord Hammond’s spokesman insisted OakNorth were offering their toolkit to the Treasury “free of charge” and no rules had been broken.

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