Peter Cruddas: who is Boris Johnson’s controversial peerage pick?
Disgraced former Tory treasurer has donated £3.5m to the party
A Tory donor who was forced to resign as the party’s treasurer over the so-called “cash for access” scandal has been nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson.
City tycoon and Brexit-backer Peter Cruddas is one of 28 names put forward by the prime minister for a seat in the House of Lords.
But his inclusion in the dissolution honours list could leave the PM facing “a new cronyism row”, says the Daily Mirror.
Who is Peter Cruddas?
Cruddas rose to prominence after founding online trading company CMC Markets. He has been described as the “richest man in the City of London”, with a reported net worth of more than £1bn, according to The Telegraph.
An avid Brexiteer, Cruddas was one of the founders of the Vote Leave campaign and gave the campaign group £1.5m in the build-up to the 2016 EU referendum, Sky News reports.
The 66-year-old businessman has also donated more than £3.5m to the Conservative Party.
Cruddas handed over £50,000 in funding for Johnson’s leadership campaign last June, saying: “We need a Brexiteer as our next PM.
“The country voted to leave the European Union and I think we should have someone that delivered that, and it should be someone like Boris Johnson.”
Why is he controversial?
Cruddas was appointed Conservative Party co-treasurer in June 2011, but his tenure would prove short-lived. In March the following year, The Sunday Times reported that he had offered undercover journalists access to then PM David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne in return for payments of up to £250,000.
The newspaper secretly recorded footage that appeared to show Cruddas saying: “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.
“You do really pick up a lot of information and when you see the prime minister, you’re seeing David Cameron, not the prime minister.”
Cruddas subsequently resigned as Tory treasurer, but denied wrongdoing and claimed his comments were just “bluster”.
He successfully sued the newspaper for libel, saying it was “categorically” not the case that he could offer “any access as a result of a donation”.
His damages payout of £180,000 was later reduced to £50,000 by the Court of Appeal, which ruled that aspects of his conduct had been “unacceptable and wrong”, but upheld the ruling of libel and malicious falsehood in his favour.
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Is Cruddas the only controversial nominee?
Johnson’s nominations list is largely uncontroversial, including ex-chancellor Ken Clarke and former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson, but Cruddas isn’t the PM’s only divisive choice.
The Daily Mail says that the PM has also “faced disquiet” over his decision to put forward former chancellor Philip Hammond for the honour.
Hammond was Theresa May’s right-hand man during her tenure as PM, and many critics link him to both May’s failure to pass a Brexit bill and attempts to prevent a no-deal withdrawal.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Eurosceptics would “raise an eyebrow” at the nomination of a chancellor who “played such a prominent role in frustrating Brexit”, while an unnamed Tory MP described the peerage nomination as a “reward for failure”.