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Russian banker helps Tories collect €6.6m in UK election funding

The Tories received 87% of donations over £7,500 in the week after 6 November,

Image: Shutterstock/kamui29

THE CONSERVATIVE PARTY has collected the majority of big donations to political parties since a general election was called in the UK, the Electoral Commission has said.

The Tories, led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, received £5.7 million (€6.6 million) in the week after 6 November – representing 87% of donations over £7,500 (€8,752).

The anti-Brexit Liberal Democrats were the next largest recipients, gathering £275,000 (€320,921), followed by Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party on £250,000 (€291,723).

The Labour Party received £218,500 (€254,966) in big donations during the seven-day period, while the Green Party got £30,000 (€35,000).

The figures were revealed in the first of several weekly reports to be released by the Electoral Commission – an independent body which oversees elections and regulates political finance – before the 12 December vote.

They showed those giving to the Conservative Party included controversial banker Lubov Chernukhin, the wife of a former ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, who donated £200,000 (€233,380).

Chernukhin, a British citizen, stoked controversy earlier this year after giving the party £135,000 (€157,532) to have dinner with then-prime minister Theresa May and other ministers.

She has now given the Tories more than £1.4 million (€1.63 million) since 2012, according to Electoral Commission records.

Her inclusion on the latest donors list could cause political headaches for the Conservatives, after the government this month delayed the publication of a parliamentary report into possible Russian interference in British politics.

Johnson defended the move, which has prompted widespread criticism and concern, on Wednesday.

“There’s absolutely no evidence that I’ve ever seen of any Russian interference in UK democratic processes,” he said during a campaign stop in Teesside, northeast England.

The biggest donation to his party came from billionaire theatre impresario John Gore, who made his fortune from staging musicals such as “Hamilton”, “Wicked” and “School of Rock”. He gave £1 million (€1.17 million).

Countywide Developments, run by billionaire property mogul Tony Gallagher, gave £500,000 (€583,441).

The biggest donation to the Labour Party came from the trade union Unite, which gave £62,000 (€72,352).

The smaller Lib Dems’ major donor was an investment bank, Attestor Services, which gave £75,000 (€87,523).

Jeremy Hoskins, an English businessman who made his money in investment and private equity, was the sole contributor to the Brexit Party.

Labour immediately criticised the figures, noting that its average donation was £26 (€30) and that it had raised more than £1 million in “small donations” in the 10 days after the election was called last month.

At the party’s manifesto launch Thursday leader Jeremy Corbyn accused “billionaires and the super-rich” of owning the Conservative Party and that he expected their opposition to his policies.

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