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Cash-For-Access Scandal Treasurer Peter Cruddas Is The Tories' Largest Donor So Far This Year

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CAMERON MILIBAND
Peter Cruddas Donated £200,000 To The Tories, But Labour Have Had A Cash Boost, Too | PA

Disgraced former Tory co-treasurer Peter Cruddas was the biggest donor to the Conservative party in the first three months of this year, according to figures published on Tuesday by the Electoral Commission. Cruddas - who resigned from his post in March after he was caught in a newspaper sting offering access to ministers in exchange for large donations to the Tories - gave the party more than £215,000.

The revelation will come as an embarrassment to the Tories, who quickly moved to distance themselves from Cruddas after he was exposed. The party insisted it was not standard practice for access to ministers to be offered in exchange for donations.

However Labour have been quick to point out that Cruddas' main donation was made on the 16th of March - nine days before the revelations emerged which brought him down.

Following Cruddas' resignation Lord Fink resumed his old role as the party's principal treasurer and David Cameron said "I'll make sure there is a party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again."

What happened to that inquiry, HuffPost wonders? So far the results haven't been disclosed. A CCHQ source told us that the inquiry hasn't finished - and said they wouldn't be paying the money from Cruddas back.

Cruddas - a multi-millionare who rose from East End poverty to run a high-stakes financial trading firm in the City - had been shadowing the role of principal treasurer for around six months last year. He took over the main role of fundraiser at the start of January 2012 and was out the door just three months later.

The Electoral Commission figures show that in general the Tories continue to outstrip Labour in terms of donations - the Conservatives raised £4m in the quarter, compared with Labour's £3.4m.

Labour continue to be heavily reliant on union funding, but received an individual donation of £200,000 from multi-millionaire Andrew Rosenfeld, who last year donated £1m to the party and who regularly advises Ed Miliband.

But it hasn't helped Labour's ongoing debt problem - the party still owes £9.8 million.

The Lib Dems recieved a donation of £150,00 from Lord Loomba; an Indian clothing magnate whose elevation to the House of Lords was questioned in 2010 because the Lib Dem member of the Lords Appointments Commission had been on six overseas trips, taking hospitality from Loomba.

The three main parties all agreed to take action on party funding after the Peter Cruddas affair; but despite talks which resumed last month there is still no sign of agreement. Labour and the Tories have rejected the idea of state-funded parties, but Ed Miliband recently proposed a cap of £5,000 a year on individual donations.

That suggestion was instantly dismissed by Tory housing minister Grant Shapps, but Lib Dems were more receptive to the idea.

A seperate consultation is underway on the regulation of lobbyists and their access to senior politicians. Under original proposals by the government lobbyists like News International's Fred Michel - at the centre of the allegations surrounding Jeremy Hunt - would not be included on the list. Lobbying groups are pushing for the terms of the register to be redefined amid concerns it would not effect the kinds of lobbyists associated with recent political scandals.

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