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Friday, September 4, 1998 Published at 05:18 GMT 06:18 UK


Tories reject Branson lottery allegations

Richard Branson: Allegations in newspaper interview

The Conservative Party has dismissed a report in The Independent, which quotes Richard Branson as saying he was offered "favours" for donations.

The newspaper says the Virgin boss indicated he lost the contract to run the National Lottery because he refused to fund the Tories.

Mr Branson alleges he was approached by a senior party fundraiser who offered a meeting with the then prime minister John Major.

He said there was an implication assisting the Conservatives would be advantageous but no direct offer of any kind was ever made to him.

"It was never that clear cut," he is quoted as saying. "Everything was done by innuendo. It was made clear that if I scratched their back they would scratch mine.

"It was made clear that either you were a friend of the party or you were not a friend of the party.... Obviously friends would benefit. Clearly, donating was important."

He added that he thought the offers made to him came without the backing of Mr Major.

"I like John Major," he said. "I do not think he would have behaved like that. I thought he was being used."

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