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Tuesday, 30 January, 2001, 11:11 GMT
Hague attended Hinduja party
Hinduja brothers
The Hindujas have lobbied both Labour and the Tories
Controversy over the Hinduja passport saga and how the billionaire brothers may have sought to use their wealth and influence with New Labour threatened to spread to their contacts with the Conservatives.


You don't have to declare in the register every single reception you go to

Ann Widdecombe
As the fall-out from Peter Mandelson's forced departure from the cabinet continued to overshadow the government's agenda, it emerged that Tory leader William Hague did not declare that a reception thrown in his honour by the brothers was used to raise funds for the party.

The Tories have insisted that the event did not need be declared in the Commons register of members interests because it was not held to benefit one person.

William Hague
Mr Hague attended the Hindujas' party last year
The party recently attacked Mr Mandelson for failing to declare a birthday party held for him by the wife of Robert Bourne, whose Legacy consortium is the government's "preferred bidder" to buy the Millennium Dome.

Guest of honour

The Hinduja brothers invited Mr Hague to be guest of honour at a party at their central London offices in March 1999.

At the event Mr Hague, in the company of many wealthy members of the Asian community, pledged that the Tories would be an inclusive party.

A week later, Conservative officials sent letters to some of those who had attended the event, offering them the chance to meet members of the shadow cabinet in return for a 1,000 donation.

Despite raising questions over the acceptance of the Hindujas' hospitality by Labour figures, the Tories insisted Mr Hague had done nothing wrong.

Shadow home secretary Ann Widdecombe said the Hinduja party did not have to be entered in the register of members' interests.

"You don't have to declare in the Register every single reception you go to," she said.

"What we are talking about here is a party to which Mr Hague was invited, which was not put on specifically for the purposes of fundraising.

"It is normal procedure that when you have made contacts with businessmen, you may follow through [with a request for donations]."

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See also:

30 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Tories draw MI6 into passport saga
24 Jan 01 | UK Politics
Hinduja brothers: Wealthy and reclusive
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