POLITICS
01/10/2011 05:40 BST | Updated 30/11/2011 05:12 GMT

Conservative Party Reliant On The City For Donations, Report Finds

Over half of the donations received by the Conservative Party in the last year were from the financial services sector, a report published on Saturday revealed.

A study conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that the proportion of donations to the party that came from the financial services sector was 51.4 per cent - up 0.6 per cent from last year.

The research also found that hedge funds, financiers and private equity firms contributed £3.3m, or 27 per cent, of the £12.18m donated to the party in the past year.

The bureau looked at 450 separate donations given to Conservative Central Office by individuals, companies and limited liability partnerships in the year ending June 30.

And it noted that fifty City donors made individual donations of £50,000, which would get them a personal meeting with David Cameron.

The Conservative Party operates a series of donor clubs based on how much money is donated. Members of the the 'Leader's Group' are invited to join the prime minister and other senior figures at "dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches".

Three men who work in the hedge fund industry, Michael Farmer, Lord Stanley Fink and Andrew Law contributed a combined total of £636,300.

While the extent to which the Conservatives rely on the City for finance will raise eyebrows given the current unpopularity of bankers, there is no suggestion that any donor has unfairly gained from their donation in any way.

The report will provide ammunition for Labour who have been under pressure over their reliance on union funding.

However a separate report published yesterday by the bureau found that donations to Labour from individuals and companies had fallen the past year, leaving the party now even more reliant on union cash.

A study of Electoral Commission figures showed trade union funding now accounts for 91.3 per cent of donations to the party, up from 59.9 per cent last year.