David Cameron has come under fire as it emerged that numerous Tory donors came to Sri Lanka for a business forum before the controversial Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM).
Construction giant JCB and telecoms group Lycamobile, two of the Tories' biggest corporate backers, have sent delegates to the Commonwealth Business Forum, which is estimated to have had business deals worth $2bn on the table.
Labour MP Kerry McCarthy told the Corporate Watch website: “David Cameron has failed to make human rights a priority in the run up to CHOGM, both in terms of his own attendance and in terms of his apparent focus on drumming up business opportunities with little regard for the human rights context in which the meeting is taking place”.
Sri Lankan president Mahina Rajapaska's government's human rights record has sparked international outcry, with the prime ministers of India, Canada and Mauritius all boycotting the CHOGM. Rajapaska's government is accused of committing war crimes in the civil war with Tamil separatists in 2009. President Rajapaksa is also due to be appointed Chairperson of the 53-nation Commonwealth - which is largely made up of former British colonies.
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Amnesty International UK director Kate Allen said the meeting “should not just be an opportunity for President Rajapaksa and his government to sign business deals whilst clinking glasses with David Cameron and other world leaders.”
Lycamobile, which are "Gold Sponsors" of the Commonwealth Business Forum, have donated £426,292 to the Tories since 2011.
The Tories have received over £1.4 million from JCB since the 2010 general election. JCB boss Sir Anthony Bamford was made a Tory peer in August.
The British business delegation is reported to be the largest from any country, with representatives from RBS, HSBC and Standard Chartered banks, mining firm Anglo-American and telecoms firm BT
The Prime Minister was represented by his trade envoy Lord Marland at the Commonwealth Business Forum. Foreign secretary William Hague defended Britain's decision to attend the CHOGM, saying a boycott would “damage the Commonwealth without changing things positively in Sri Lanka”.
Cameron was accused by a Sri Lankan minister of acting like an imperialist after he called for inquiry into alleged war crimes committed by regime forces.