POLITICS

Ex-Dragon Theo Paphitis Gives £10,000 To The Liberal Democrats

14/02/2014 12:33 GMT | Updated 14/02/2014 12:59 GMT
Mark Cuthbert via Getty Images
Theo Paphitis Arriving At The Royal Ballet School In London For The Launch Of The New Range Rover. (Photo by Mark Cuthbert/UK Press via Getty Images)

Former Dragons' Den star Theo Paphitis gave £10,000 to the Liberal Democrats last year, four years after donating £10,000 to the Tories, the Electoral Commission has revealed.

The retail tycoon, who is worth over £200 million, describes himself as "apolitical' and said that his donation to the Liberal Democrats in Bermondsey and Old Southwark was to support the area's local MP Simon Hughes rather than the political party.

The Rymans boss told HuffPostUK: “The reports of my support for the Lib Dems have been somewhat exaggerated!

"My recent donation to Simon Hughes was a contribution I gladly made directly to him, not the political party, in order to help Simon with his regeneration work and support of local businesses and high streets in his constituency.

“Having previously lived in Peckham myself and been chairman of Millwall FC I’ve got a lot of interest in the area and I’ve seen at first hand the many, many good things Simon does there.”

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Theo appears alongside Simon Hughes at the launch of his plan to revive Southwark's high streets

As well as being apolitical, Paphitis has previously described himself as cynical about politics, but has been a personal supporter of justice minister Simon Hughes.

Appearing at the launch of Hughes' 2010 election campaign, Paphitis said: "If there were more Simons in the House of Commons I believe that this country would be a much better place."

The Rymans boss launched Hughes' proposals to rescue local high streets at an event last November, in which he praised the local Lib Dems' five point plan as "pure common sense".

Appearing alongside IT entrepreneur Michael Tobin, Paphitis hit out at the delay in the regeneration of areas like Old Kent Road saying "the answer is 'just bloody do it'".

Paphitis called for action last year to save the "ticking time bomb" of Britain's high streets, warning that the business rate system was "no longer fit for purpose".

Besides Paphitis' donation, the Electoral Commission revealed that Ukip received £270,955 in the last three months of 2013, bringing their final total for the year to £654,162.

The Tories received £4.8 million in the last three months of 2013, Labour raked in £3.26 million while the Liberal Democrats got £1.3 million.

The largest Tory donation was a bequest worth £769,227 from a Birmingham pensioner, Violet Baker, which reportedly sparked a family rift as her Labour-supporting family said it was made out of "spite".

Most of Labour's donations continued to come from the trade unions with £836,875 coming from Unite, £462,235 from Unison and £389,434 from the GMB.

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