27 Mar 2012

Cameron pledges inquiry into access scandal

5:31 am on 27 March 2012

British Prime Minister David Cameron is pledging an inquiry into allegations the former treasurer of his party tried to sell access to him.

Peter Cruddas has resigned from his post as the Conservative Party's chief fundraiser after telling undercover reporters a donation of £250,000 to the party would allow them to meet Mr Cameron and possibly even influence government policy.

Mr Cruddas was secretly filmed by Sunday Times reporters saying that a donation of this amount gave "premier league" access to party leaders, including private dinners with Mr Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne, and with any feedback on policy shared with Downing Street.

He was heard initially saying that it was not possible to buy access to the prime minister, but then went on to discuss what access different size donations would get.

Mr Cruddas quit hours after the publication of the story.

David Cameron says his actions are "completely unacceptable" and an inquiry will be held.

"This is not the way we raise money in the Conservative Party. It shouldn't have happened. It's quite right that Peter Cruddas has resigned.

"I'll make sure there's a proper party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again."

The Conservative Party has several levels of donation.

The top one is the Leader's Group, where for an annual donation of £50,000 donors can be invited to join Mr Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-Prime Minister's Questions lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches, the BBC reports.

Peter Cruddas had been involved in fundraising for the Conservative Party since June last year and took over as its principal fundraiser earlier in March.