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Prime Minister overrules his advisers to hand peerage to ex-Tory treasurer

Boris Johnson in crony storm: Prime Minister overrules his advisers to hand peerage to ex-Tory treasurer who was embroiled in donations-for-access scandal

  • The Prime Minister Boris Johnson decided to ennoble City tycoon Peter Cruddas
  • House of Lords Appointments Commission recommended he be turned down 
  • It was claimed he offered access to then PM David Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne in return for donations

Boris Johnson was embroiled in another cronyism row last night after he overruled his advisers to hand a peerage to a controversial Tory donor.

The Prime Minister decided to ennoble City tycoon Peter Cruddas despite a recommendation from the House of Lords Appointments Commission that he should be turned down.

It advised against the honour because Mr Cruddas resigned as Conservative co-treasurer in 2012 after it was claimed he offered access to then PM David Cameron and his chancellor George Osborne in return for donations. 

It is believed he has been turned down numerous times before. Mr Cruddas, 67, donated £50,000 to Mr Johnson’s Tory leadership campaign last year and has given £3million to the Conservatives since 2007. 

The Prime Minister decided to ennoble City tycoon Peter Cruddas (pictured) despite a recommendation from the House of Lords Appointments Commission that he should be turned down

The PM’s decision to ignore the commission came weeks after he over-ruled another adviser when he reported that Home Secretary Priti Patel had breached the ministerial code by bullying aides.

And earlier this year he defended former chief adviser Dominic Cummings over his trip from London to Durham in what most saw as a lockdown breach.

Mr Cruddas was one of 16 new peers announced yesterday, including former Archbishop of York John Sentamu and ex-MI5 boss Sir Andrew Parker, as the list was slipped out three days before Christmas.

Mr Cruddas was one of 16 new peers announced yesterday, including former Archbishop of York John Sentamu (pictured) and ex-MI5 boss Sir Andrew Parker, as the list was slipped out three days before Christmas

Mr Cruddas was one of 16 new peers announced yesterday, including former Archbishop of York John Sentamu (pictured) and ex-MI5 boss Sir Andrew Parker, as the list was slipped out three days before Christmas

Daniel Hannan

Jenny Chapman

Right: JENNY CHAPMAN Former Labour MP who ran Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign. Left: DANIEL HANNAN Ex-Tory Euro-MP

But Lords Speaker Lord Fowler expressed fears that the Upper House is already getting too large.

He said: ‘Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists.

‘My fundamental concern is about the number of new peers that have been appointed by the Prime Minister in his first 12 months in office.

JUDITH BLAKE CBE Leader of Leeds City Council is heading for the red benches

JUDITH BLAKE CBE Leader of Leeds City Council is heading for the red benches 

Vernon Coaker

Gillian Merron

Left: VERNON COAKER Ex-Minister of State for Schools in Gordon Brown’s Government. Right: GILLIAN MERRON Chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and former Labour MP 

‘This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons.’ 

In an apparent reference to the ennoblement of Mr Cruddas, he added: ‘It may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission. 

Heading for the red benches…

  • PETER CRUDDAS Businessman and Tory donor
  • DR JOHN SENTAMU Former Archbishop of York
  • SIR ANDREW PARKER Former director general of MI5
  • DANIEL HANNAN Ex-Tory Euro-MP
  • JENNY CHAPMAN Former Labour MP who ran Sir Keir Starmer’s leadership campaign
  • GILLIAN MERRON Chief executive of the Board of Deputies of British Jews, and former Labour MP
  • STEPHANIE FRASER Chief executive of Cerebral Palsy Scotland
  • JUDITH BLAKE CBE Leader of Leeds City Council
  • VERNON COAKER Ex-Minister of State for Schools in Gordon Brown’s Government

To add insult to injury, for the second time the announcement of new peers has been made when Parliament is not sitting.

‘Sometimes the Lords itself is blamed for a failure to change. My answer to that is – don’t blame the Lords, blame successive governments who have avoided the subject. 

‘The reply has been that change is ‘not a priority’. It is possible that with the last two lists the public may now disagree.’

Mr Cruddas resigned as party co-treasurer in 2012 after a newspaper suggested he was offering access to Mr Cameron for a donation of £250,000 a year. 

But the following year he won £180,000 in damages in a libel victory against The Sunday Times, which had published the claims. The damages were later reduced to £50,000 on appeal.

In a letter to the commission, Mr Johnson said its rejection of Mr Cruddas’s nomination ‘relates to historic concerns’. 

He added the most serious of the allegations were found to be ‘untrue and libellous’ and an internal Conservative investigation discovered ‘no intentional wrongdoing’ on Mr Cruddas’s part.

Mr Johnson also said the committee found ‘no suggestion of any matters of concern’ before or since the 2012 allegations.

He stressed the decision to go against the commission’s recommendations is a ‘clear and rare exception’ to the norm. 

Labour deputy leader Angela Rayner said: ‘After months of revelations about the cronyism at the heart of this Government, it’s somehow appropriate the Prime Minister has chosen to end the year with a peerage to Peter Cruddas.’

She said there was ‘one rule for the Conservatives and their chums, another for the rest of the country’. 

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