UK Politics

Row over Tory sponsored Lords dinner

Houses of Parliament
Image caption Lord Fink was appointed Tory treasurer in March, replacing Peter Cruddas

The Tories' chief fundraiser has admitted arranging a House of Lords dinner for American Express customers in exchange for a charity donation.

Lord Fink agreed to sponsor the dinner at Parliament, for Amex cardholders, as part of a £6,000 trip to London.

Labour said it was "a flagrant attempt to breach the rules" and called for him to resign, or be sacked by the PM.

But the Conservatives say the event was cancelled last week when it became clear it may be in breach of the rules.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism and the Independent newspaper reported it was part of a "Wimbledon Championships" package.

Available to AmEx Platinum and Centurion card-holders, it was advertised as a "one-of-a kind opportunity to advance your lifestyle" including two days of tennis, a stay the Dorchester hotel and a drinks reception with former Wimbledon champion John McEnroe.

Lord Fink was appointed Tory treasurer in March, replacing Peter Cruddas, who resigned after secretly filmed footage showed him apparently offering access to Prime Minister David Cameron for a donation of £250,000 a year.

'Systematic moral failure'

Shadow minister for the Cabinet Office Jon Trickett urged Lord Fink to consider his own position, saying he should be sacked if he refused.

"This is a flagrant attempt to breach the rules of Parliament. It leaves a very nasty taste to suggest that you can buy access to the House of Lords, and it cheapens democracy," he said.

"To have one Tory treasurer in trouble for appearing to sell access to Number 10 is bad enough, some might think that now to have a second treasurer apparently in breach of the code of conduct is a sign of systemic moral failure in the high command of the Conservative Party."

Lord Fink said he had agreed to sponsor the dinner in return for a donation to Guy's and St Thomas' Hospital in London.

"This event has been held in the Lords on several occasions in the past and I agreed to sponsor it this year in return for a sizeable donation to a major hospital," he said.

"I have no commercial interest in Amex and there was never any question of me profiting from sponsoring it."

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