Page last updated at 15:54 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 16:54 UK

Tory donations 'cover up' claim

Hazel Blears
Ms Blears demanded details of "secret Tory backers"

Shadow cabinet ministers have attempted to cover up "potential conflicts of interests" over donations, Communities Secretary Hazel Blears has said.

A Commons standards committee report says shadow housing minister Grant Shapps' office was part-funded by an estate agent and two mortgage brokers.

Shadow health secretary Andrew Lansley's office received a donation from a medical equipment company owner.

The Conservatives said all the MPs named had been "exonerated".

The money received by leading Tories was transferred to run their offices by the party's Central Office.

It was declared to the Electoral Commission but not Parliament's Register of Members' Interests.

Donors listed

In a letter to the Commons Standards Commissioner, Mr Shapps revealed the names of six Conservative donors whose money had been given to run his office.

In the interests of transparency we took the decision some time ago to volunteer all information concerning donations
Conservative Party spokesman

Among them were mortgage brokers Charcol and Edeus Creators and London estate agent Douglas & Gordon.

Mr Lansley said his office had received money donated by Julian Schild, owner of medical equipment company Huntleigh Technology until last year.

Other shadow cabinet members whose offices received money were: shadow chancellor George Osborne; shadow foreign secretary William Hague; shadow schools secretary Michael Gove; shadow business secretary Alan Duncan; shadow culture secretary Jeremy Hunt; shadow transport secretary Theresa Villiers; and shadow cabinet office minister Francis Maude.

The details are revealed in a report by the standards select committee, which investigated after a complaint about 487,000 transferred to Mr Osborne's office.

The complaint was upheld but the committee said it "would not be fair or reasonable to criticise him" because of the uncertainty over the application of the rules.

It gave all members of the shadow cabinet four weeks to declare any similar donations.

'Not clear'

Ms Blears said: "Today's report shows that before David Cameron lectures others on transparency he needs to put his own house in order.

"This report shows that by concealing the true source of the funding of their offices, members of the shadow cabinet did not make clear any potential conflicts of interest.

"George Osborne, as the shadow chancellor is particularly vulnerable to charges of conflicts of interests given his role and a number of questions are raised by some of the now revealed donors to other members of the shadow cabinet.

"George Osborne and the rest of the Shadow Cabinet must now publish at once the full details of all the secret Tory backers who have funded their offices, past and present."

She added: "Transparency is not something to simply preach but is something to actually practise."

A Conservative spokesman said: "In the interests of transparency we took the decision some time ago to volunteer all information concerning donations where the donor has expressed a wish with regards to other shadow cabinet members to the inquiry.

"We are pleased that as a result the commissioner has also exonerated all shadow cabinet members involved."

SEE ALSO
Osborne donation complaint upheld
15 May 08 |  Politics
Eighty Tories reported over gifts
16 Jan 08 |  Politics
Osborne defends donations actions
14 Jan 08 |  Politics
Peter Hain resigns from Cabinet
24 Jan 08 |  Politics
Hain 'could face police inquiry'
15 Jan 08 |  Politics

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