Peter Cruddas: PM ennobles ‘disgraced Tory donor’
Honours commission advises against appointing Cruddas to the House of Lords
Peter Cruddas, the businessman and Conservative donor who resigned in 2012 after a cash-for-access scandal, has been ennobled by Boris Johnson - against the advice of the Lords Appointments Commission.
Johnson finds himself “at the centre of a new cronyism row”, says the London Evening Standard, after becoming the first prime minister to reject the advice of the honours watchdog since it was set up 20 years ago.
He “received £50,000 from Mr Cruddas for his campaign to become Conservative leader in 2019”, says the BBC. Cruddas has also “donated £3.3m to the Tory party, as well as £1.5 million to the Vote Leave campaign”, the Evening Standard adds.
Angela Raynor, Labour’s deputy leader, said the appointment came as no surprise. “After months of revelations about the cronyism at the heart of this government,” she said, “it’s somehow appropriate the prime minister has chosen to end the year with a peerage to Peter Cruddas.”
Johnson, however, said that “the most serious accusations” levelled against Cruddas in 2012 when he was Conservative co-treasurer were “found to be untrue and libellous”. The Sunday Times had alleged that he was offering access to David Cameron, who was then prime minister, in return for donations to the Conservative party.
“Mr Cruddas denied the claim, which was found to be true by the Court of Appeal following a libel case,” The Daily Telegraph reports. “The court found another allegation against Mr Cruddas made by The Sunday Times to be untrue.”
Cruddas received £50,000 in damages from the newspaper.
Lord Fowler, the speaker of the House of Lords and a former Conservative minister, said today’s appointments also raise a more “fundamental concern” about the size of the second chamber. Johnson has created 52 new peers since his election victory a year ago, raising its membership to 830 - despite a long-term goal to reduce its size to 600.
Sir Alistair Graham, a former chair of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told The Telegraph that the Lords had become a “monstrous” institution. Creating new peers is “a ridiculous thing”, he said, “particularly when many of the people appointed are close friends, or supporters, or donors of political parties”.