Scotland Yard is under pressure to launch a ‘cash for honours’ probe after it was revealed yesterday that more than a dozen major Tory donors have been given peerages.

Opposition MPs called on the Metropolitan Police to investigate allegations that all former Conservative treasurers in recent decades – apart from the most recent – have been offered seats in the House of Lords after donating millions to the party.

One former Tory chairman is said to have claimed: ‘Once you pay your £3million, you get your peerage.’

Selling or buying an honour is illegal. Several arrests were made in relation to previous allegations that peers had loaned large amounts to Labour. However, no criminal charges were filed.

SNP MP Pete Wishart said last night: ‘It’s beyond all doubt that the honours system has been abused by the Tories. The Metropolitan Police should launch a fresh cash for honours investigation.’

SNP MP Peter Wishart

Labour's deputy leader Angela Rayner (pictured) is among those who have accused the Conservative Party of corruption

Angela Rayner, Labour’s deputy leader (pictured), is one of those who has accused the Conservative Party (left) of corruption. Peter Wishart, the SNP’s head of operations (left), said that the Metropolitan Police should open a new investigation to investigate honours fraud.

Electoral Commission figures analysed by The Sunday Times and Open Democracy found all those who had recently served as Tory treasurer had donated millions of pounds to the party and individual MPs. Pictured: Boris Johnson and Priti Patel

The Sunday Times and Open Democracy analysed the figures of The Sunday Times and Open Democracy to find that all Tory treasurers had given millions to individual MPs and Tory party. Photo: Boris Johnson and Priti Paltel

And Labour’s deputy leader Angela Rayner said the allegations show that ‘Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party is corrupt, dodgy, sleazy and on the take’.

Prominent barrister Jolyon Maugham QC asked: ‘Why are the police not investigating this? Why is Boris Johnson above the law?’

The Sunday Times and Open Democracy analysed the figures of The Sunday Times, which found that all former Tory treasurers had given millions to individual MPs and to the party. All 16 treasurers who served as Treasurers in the last sixteen years have received peerages.

The research also showed that the last six treasurers-turned-peers gave far less money once they were elevated to Parliament. 

James Lupton

Lord Mark Spencer

The probe suggests treasurers are rewarded if they donate more than £3m. Pictured: Lord Lupton, (L) and Lord Spencer, (R).

Alexander Fraser

Peter Cruddas's peerage was pushed through by Boris Johnson despite the Lords appointments commission's recommendation

Pictured: Lord Fraser (left), and Lord Cruddas, (right) were among the lords implicated in the cash-for-honours scandal

They have not given speeches to the Lords, despite being lauded for their skills.

Lord Fraser and Lord Cruddas were former treasures who gave millions of dollars and received peerages.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show yesterday that they were given a seat in the House of Lords due to their ‘expertise’.

Lord Lupton did not comment while Lord Cruddas also declined.

Lord Spencer’s lawyers said that the allegations were not true. 

Tory peer in £90m Covid deals affair changes his story…again


A former health minister has admitted he deleted text and WhatsApp messages about Covid testing contracts from his phone because he wrongly believed there would be back-up copies.

Lord Bethell stated that three contradictory reasons he offered to the government lawyers for why messages couldn’t be produced were also incorrect because they all related to a telephone he had stopped using prior to the outbreak.

He set out the account in a witness statement for a High Court hearing over a legal challenge relating to deals for Covid tests worth £87.5million.

Lord Bethell, who was sacked in last month’s reshuffle, is said to have used his private email address thousands of times in relation to official business.

Last night he said he had done nothing wrong and insisted that using ‘modern technology’ to try to save lives was ‘appropriate’.

Lord Bethell’s use of his personal phone and private email has emerged as a result of a judicial review brought by the Good Law Project.

Former health minister Lord Bethell (pictured in Parliament) has admitted he deleted text and WhatsApp messages about Covid testing contracts from his phone because he wrongly believed there would be back-up copies in his latest explanation

Lord Bethell, an ex-health minister (pictured at Parliament), admitted that he deleted WhatsApp messages and texts about Covid Testing contracts from his smartphone because he mistakenly believed there would still be copies.


Ministers have urged a think tank report to urge that Mandarins be prohibited from being granted top Whitehall positions to their favourites.

The Centre for Policy Studies calls for major reforms to open up the ‘closed shop’ of senior civil service appointments.

The warning warns that not all posts are advertised to the public and significant changes made more than 150 years ago are still not implemented.

The study says the scandal over David Cameron’s banker boss Lex Greensill – who was given a Downing Street pass and a CBE by the head of the civil service at the time – raised serious questions about the power of ‘personal patronage’.

Last night Cabinet Office minister Steve Barclay promised to study the report ‘carefully’.

He said: ‘We must ensure that all civil service appointments are on merit and ensure that we attract the best outside talent.’

In a foreword to the think-tank paper, former Treasury mandarin Lord Macpherson says the role of officials demands more scrutiny and ‘self-regulation has failed’. To protect against conflict of interests, he said that stronger powers were needed.

This paper explains that the Northcote Trevelyan Report of 1854, which established the principle that civil servants should be chosen on merit and open competition, is the foundation of the current practice.

However, the recommendation of its authors that intern promotions be subject to law enforcement has not been realized.

A series of contracts for the design, production and supply of antibody tests is being challenged, which were signed by Abingdon Health in York and the Department of Health and Social Care in April 2020.

The firm, which had recorded losses of £1.5million the previous year, received at least £19million of public money. The Daily Mail reported in February that the contract had been cancelled due to inaccurate tests.

According to official guidance, ministers must use Whitehall system to manage government business. If they don’t, they should copy all private communications to the departmental computers to preserve a complete record.

Elizabeth Denham, information commissioner is investigating the use of personal emails for official business.

The controversy over Lord Bethell’s phone emerged in August, when letters from the Government’s legal department said that after he confirmed he had sent the texts and messages relating to the deal from his phone, he first said he could not produce them because the handset had been ‘lost’.

A few days later, Lord Bethell said instead his phone was ‘broken’ or ‘defective’. He finally admitted that his phone was defective or broken and said that it had been given to someone in his family.

However, he now has a signed witness statement stating that he realizes that he purchased a new smartphone in November 2019 which he uses.

His explanations earlier were about his older one which had a crack screen and a deficient battery and was being used by a relative.

The explanation of why WhatsApp messages and texts relating to government business were lost by the author is complex.

His statement says his phone became ‘overloaded with data’, and so he often cleared messages to free up storage space.

Lord Bethell says: ‘I had activated the “back-up” function on WhatsApp. It had an archive system and back-up system, which I thought was a good assumption. However, I am informed that this may not be the case and that not all of my WhatsApp messages will necessarily be stored.’

Owen Paterson

After it became clear that Owen Paterson (pictured left), a Tory MP, was scandalized and had made contact with Lord Bethell shortly before the outbreak.


The former mandarin in charge of the UK’s net zero strategy may have an ‘unfair advantage’ in his new private job advising major companies on the topic, a watchdog has warned.

It ordered Julian Critchlow to wait six months between leaving the civil service and starting as a senior adviser with consultancy Bain & Co.

This ruling came from the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments. It monitors the revolving doors between Whitehall, big business and Whitehall.

The agreement has established conditions that will govern his role. For example, he cannot advise on certain subjects.

The committee warned: ‘He seeks to advise Bain on the matters he had responsibility for in office. There is a risk his access to information while in government could offer an unfair advantage to Bain.’

Bain worked Mr Critchlow for thirty years, before he moved to the department of business in 2018. He left Bain in March and sought to return to the company through the committee.


The former minister’s statement says the problem was exacerbated by having two phones, his personal and a government one, and transferring messages between them.

He said after discussing this with government IT experts ‘I now understand that this may mean that not all of my WhatsApp messages will necessarily have been backed up. It may also be possible that messages have been lost and threads broken when swapping my WhatsApp between phones’.

The statement mentions that some of the messages were sent by Sir John Bell and Matt Hancock, former health secretary, which helped to create the Abingdon Test Consortium.

It adds that he ‘cannot recall for certain’ whether any concerned the antibody home testing contracts.

The revelation comes as it is revealed that Owen Paterson was scandal-hit and forced to resign last week as Tory MP. He had been in contact with Lord Bethell shortly before the outbreak.

In April 2013, Mr Paterson attended a meeting with Lord Bethell, Randox and the health company. This was shortly after Randox won its first Covid contract.

Government sources said at the time it was merely a ‘courtesy call’. Last autumn Randox was awarded a £347million contract for Covid testing services.

A recent sleaze inquiry looking at Mr Paterson’s paid consultancy work for Randox did not consider this contact with Lord Bethell.

Jolyon Maugham QC, the Good Law Project’s director, said: ‘I make no allegations about what was or wasn’t on Lord Bethell’s phone.

‘But what I do know is that if there is incriminating evidence on private channels ministers have every reason – and because they are private channels every opportunity – to destroy it. Given the size of the spend on PPE and test and trace – almost £50billion – that is very worrying indeed.’

Lord Bethell said: ‘The Good Law Project’s opposition to the use of modern communications to collaborate on the national response to a global emergency of unprecedented proportions is utterly baffling.

‘It’s appropriate for modern technology to be used in government, underlining the importance of using all tools at your disposal.’

The Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to our request for comment.

The government attorneys have conducted searches that suggest Lord Bethell may have exchanged emails about Covid deals between 8.400 and 33.000.

A married father of four, 54-year-old Peer managed the Ministry of Sound nightclub and founded a PR agency.

He donated £5,000 to Mr Hancock’s leadership bid in 2019 and became a health minister nine months later. Also, he sponsored Gina Coladangelo’s parliamentary pass. Gina was an aide to Mr Hancock.

In September, he was fired amid a row about his private email account that he used to discuss Covid contract issues.

After a bid to save a shamed MP, senior Tory faces calls for resignation: Bernard Jenkin has been pressured to resign from his position as chairman of the Commons liaison Committee. He tried to free Owen Paterson from responsibility over a lobbying scandal. SIMON WALTERS


A Tory grandee faces the threat of the sack for trying to get Owen Paterson off the hook for breaking lobbying rules.

Bernard Jenkin, a senior Conservative leader is being pressured by fellow conservatives to quit as the paid chairman of Commons liaison.

He is accused of being a ‘stooge’ for Boris Johnson, who ordered the botched attempt to save Mr Paterson.

Bernard Jenkin is under pressure from senior Conservatives to resign as paid chairman of the Commons liaison committee

Senior Conservatives are pressuring Bernard Jenkin to quit as the paid Chairman of the Commons Liaison Committee.

Sir Bernard’s Tory foes claim he ‘betrayed his duty’ to protect all Commons committees, including the standards committee, which proposed that the former minister should be suspended from parliament for 30 days.

After Baroness Jenkin’s involvement in the Paterson scandal and his wife becoming embroiled, Sir Bernard became the MP for Harwich & North Essex.

It emerged yesterday that she exchanged emails with Mr Paterson’s wife, Rose, hours before her suicide last year. Mrs Paterson reportedly wrote: ‘Sometimes I just feel like I should go into the garden and never come back.’

Baroness Jenkin’s email referred to an obscure blog linking Mrs Paterson to Randox, the company at the centre of her husband’s lobbying controversy.

Mr Paterson is understood to have said he believed the email ‘pushed Rose over the edge’. Sir Bernard is being rebuffed by the 35 Commons committee chairmen, who are responsible for the liaison committee which oversees all the other.

He is paid £15,000 a year on top of his £81,000 MP’s salary to run the group.

Sir Bernard’s Tory foes claim he ‘betrayed his duty’ to protect all Commons committees, including the standards committee, which proposed that the former minister Owen Paterson (pictured above) should be suspended from parliament for 30 days

Sir Bernard’s Tory foes claim he ‘betrayed his duty’ to protect all Commons committees, including the standards committee, which proposed that the former minister Owen Paterson (pictured above) should be suspended from parliament for 30 days

Several fellow members are furious at Sir Bernard’s prominent part in the vote to sabotage the decision by the standards committee to punish Mr Paterson.

There is particular anger over the fact that it came after Sir Bernard, who also sits on the standards committee, ‘recused’ himself from its sleaze inquiry into Mr Paterson on the grounds that they are friends.

According to the Daily Mail, Simon Hoare is one of Sir Bernard’s liaison committee members. He also heads the Commons Northern Ireland commission.

The Dorset North MP, one of 13 Tories who voted against last week’s Commons bid by Mr Johnson to reprieve Mr Paterson, has told friends he is ‘appalled’ by Sir Bernard’s behaviour.

The move to fire Sir Bernard, the MP for Harwich and North Essex, emerged after his wife, Baroness Jenkin (pictured together), became embroiled in the Paterson scandal

After his wife Baroness Jenkin, the MP from Harwich, and North Essex became involved in the Paterson scandal, Sir Bernard decided to fire him.

Mr Hoare told the Mail: ‘It is not unreasonable to expect the chairman to protect other parliamentary committees.’

Karen Bradley, another liaison committee member and former minister, has privately questioned Sir Bernard’s fitness to be chairman.

Sir Bernard is also accused of trying to ‘neuter’ the liaison committee’s role of scrutinising the Prime Minister in his regular appearances before the panel.

According to this newspaper, Johnson irritated its members by telling them that they had to give Johnson advance notice about their questions.

‘It was an outrageous suggestion,’ said a member of the committee. ‘Our job is to hold the PM to account – Bernard wants to turn it into a cheerleading group.

‘We were forced to accept him as chairman by Downing Street because they thought he would be soft on Boris. It hasn’t been disappointing but it can’t go on. It is an abuse of Parliament.’

Sir Bernard, the son of Patrick Jenkin, who served in Margaret Thatcher’s Cabinet, and his well-connected wife Anne make up one of the most influential Tory power couples.

Sir Bernard said last night: ‘No one has raised any concerns with me. I always try to act in the best interests of the committee.’