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PM facing 'cash for access' row
David Cameron has been plunged into a cash-for-access row after the Tories' senior fundraiser was filmed claiming that large donations to the party would secure meetings with the Prime Minister.
Conservative Party co-treasurer Peter Cruddas resigned within hours of being exposed by The Sunday Times for boasting that "things will open up" for anybody willing to donate £250,000 a year.
Speaking to undercover reporters posing as wealth fund executives, he boasted: "It will be awesome for your business."
Mr Cruddas insisted that there was "no question" of donors gaining undue access to senior figures. The Tories said donations did not "buy party or government policy".
But the disclosures will be deeply embarrassing for the Prime Minister. Senior Labour MP David Miliband said: "The idea that policy is for sale is grotesque."
In a meeting secretly filmed by reporters, Mr Cruddas said that "premier league" donors - those giving £250,000 a year - could lobby Mr Cameron directly and their views were "fed in" to the Downing Street policy unit. He said there was no point in "scratching around" with donations of £10,000.
According to The Sunday Times, he believed that any prospective donations from the reporters would come from Liechtenstein and would be ineligible under election law.
They are said to have discussed the creation of a British subsidiary and the possibility of using UK employees to make the donation.
Major donors are invited to private dinners and other events at Number 10 and Chequers with Mr Cameron, Mr Cruddas said. Donors and their business clients are also able to meet Cabinet ministers like Chancellor George Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague, he said.
The journalists secured the two-hour meeting with Mr Cruddas through Sarah Southern, a former Conservative Party staffer now working as a lobbyist. The Sunday Times said she told the reporters they should make a "huge donation" if they wanted access to senior government figures.