The government has insisted that it will not disclose details of private meetings between David Cameron and Conservative party donors in the wake of claims by the party’s treasurer that large cash payments could secure intimate dinners with the prime minister. Francis Maude, the Cabinet Office minister, said demands for lists of visitors to Cameron’s flat in Downing Street were unreasonable, but insisted the party had nothing to hide. The Commons Speaker, John Bercow, is likely to accede to Labour requests for an urgent government statement on the issue. The opposition has already demanded an independent investigation into the claims. Tony Blair’s former chief fundraiser, Lord Levy, who called for private meetings at Downing Street to be revealed, said he was not aware of any such meetings having taken place at No 10 or Chequers when Blair was prime minister.
Ministerial aides say Cameron’s flat is used as his family home and the prime minister foots the bill, not the taxpayer. The Tories launched their own inquiry on Sunday after the resignation of the treasurer, Peter Cruddas, whose claims that private meetings could help donors influence policy were filmed by undercover Sunday Times reporters. Mark Adams, a Labour supporter and lobbyist, has reported the matter to police. “The article indicates that the party has done this before,” he said.
Maude told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “This is a bit of a nonsense. This obsession with the fact that … someone like Michael Spencer — who has been treasurer of the party, who is a personal friend of the prime minister and the prime minister’s wife — may have gone to supper at the prime minister’s expense in his private residence, which happens to be in Downing Street. The fact that that happens does not mean that what you get as a donor to the party is the ability to be invited to Downing Street as a guest of the prime minister.”