From Stanley Fink, Treasurer of The Conservative Party
I thought that it would be appropriate for me to write to you in light of the events of the last few days.
In the first place, to let you know that Peter Cruddas has resigned as Treasurer of the Party and that I have agreed to return to that role. I will serve alongside my Co-Treasurer Michael Farmer. As you will be aware, I stepped down from this post three weeks ago and Peter Cruddas took up the post.
I can categorically state that since I became the co-Treasurer of the Party in 2008, there has been absolutely no question of donors to the Party being able to use their donations to influence policy or to gain improper or special access to senior politicians.
Peter Cruddas’ comments as recorded by the Sunday Times are in my view entirely without basis in fact and the approach to fundraising they imply is wholly improper. It is not possible in any way to buy privileged access to Ministers or to send policy suggestions to the No10 Policy unit by virtue of becoming a donor to the Party.
The Treasurers’ team have in my experience conducted themselves professionally and entirely properly at all times and have been extremely careful to observe the requirements of electoral law. I have been proud to serve as part of this team and I am very happy to return to this role.
This morning the Prime Minister announced a series of steps to reassure the public that the way in which the Conservative Party conducts its fundraising is entirely proper.
First, he has ordered a full enquiry into political fundraising by the Party. This will be led by the Conservative peer Lord Gold, a distinguished lawyer and a former senior partner at Herbert Smith.
Secondly, there has been much speculation about dinners with financial supporters in the Prime Minister’s flat in Downing Street. The Prime Minister has given full disclosure as to the attendees of these dinners.
None of these dinners were fund raising dinners, and none of these dinners were paid for by the taxpayer. The Prime Minister has known most of those attending for many years.
Let me add that Peter Cruddas never recommended anyone to go to dinner in the flat; nor has he been to dinner there himself.
Thirdly, from now on, the Conservative Party will publish details every quarter of any meals attended by any major donors, whether they take place at Downing Street, Chequers or any official residence.
Fourthly, from now on, the Conservative Party will, in addition, publish the names of attendees at major donor club dinners.
Finally, the Prime Minister has given his assurance that no one in the No 10 Policy Unit has met anyone at Peter Cruddas’s request. However, to avoid any perception of undue influence, from now on we will put in place new procedures in which, if any Ministerial contact with a party donor prompts a request for policy advice, the Minister will refer this to his or her Private Office who can seek guidance from the Permanent Secretary.
All of these seem to me to be sensible steps to remove any appearance of impropriety around political fundraising. In my view there has not, under my watch, been any actual impropriety, but the events of the weekend will have raised doubts in the mind of the public which need to be addressed.
I would also like to point out that the Prime Minister has sought to reopen a dialogue with the other political parties on political fundraising and has asked Francis Maude and Andrew Feldman to lead those negotiations.
I believe that, as a team, we have acted swiftly and effectively to deal with an extremely serious situation that we only became aware of late on Saturday night.
I would like to thank you very much for your support of the Party, to apologise profusely for the embarrassment and reputational damage caused by the Peter Cruddas incident and to assure you that the Treasurers’ team will continue to conduct itself in a way that is both within the letter and the spirit of electoral law with an emphasis on transparency and ethical conduct.
With best wishes