With the Tories currently getting flak for holding a ball for the party’s super rich donors in the same week queries were raised about their tax habits, Ken Clarke appeared on the Sunday Politics to deny any suggestions of wrongdoing. He did, however, say that a ‘more defensible system’ should be put in place with a ‘donation cap’ and state funding so parties do not become overly reliant on rich individuals.
Until that happens it’s business as usual for the Conservatives. According to the latest register of interests, Nicola Blackwood, the Conservative MP for Oxford West and Abingdon, accepted a £10,000 donation from George Robinson.
In 2012 Robinson, a top hedge fund boss, was ordered by a judge to pay back millions of pounds in tax after Robinson used an offshore scheme to reduce his tax. The hedge fund boss was a director of a company called Romangate. which had more than 500 directors, including the comedian Jimmy Carr. Romangate was part of a tax avoidance strategy called Rushmore. The judge ruled that Robinson and three of his workmates had to pay back £13 million. While he has now repaid the tax ordered by the court, the fact that one of the Tory’s top donors attempted to avoid tax in this way may give people cause for concern.
A Conservative spokesman says any suggestion of ‘impropriety by the party is malicious and defamatory and will be treated as such’. ‘All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with Electoral Commission rules,’ a spokesman adds.
With the Electoral Commission releasing the next list of donors on Thursday, Mr S will be keeping a close eye on the money going to both the Conservatives and Labour.