PRIME Minister David Cameron was the surprise omission from billionaire phone shop founder Sir Charles Dunstone’s lavish 50th birthday celebrations in Venice over the weekend, fuelling speculation their relationship has soured.
Guests included Sir Stuart Rose, Karren Brady and Lord Coe. Many other celebrity business figures were expected at the bash and sources said they believed the Prime Minister to have been invited.
Cameron has dined with Dunstone on a couple of occasions – once with chancellor George Osborne – and one source said he had no doubt the PM had been invited to the party. However, relations between the two men have soured in recent weeks, according to sources, after Dunstone unexpectedly failed to sign a Cameron-inspired declaration co-ordinated by Sir Michael Rake and Vodafone boss Vittorio Colao, in favour of the union during the run-up to the Scottish referendum.
The letter warned of higher broadband costs for Scots if they voted for independence and came in the wake of a whirlwind tour of Scotland by a panicked Cameron, who had earlier called on leading business figures to publicly declare their support for the union to bolster the campaign. Dunstone’s Dixons Carphone was the notable omission from the letter, which was signed by TalkTalk Group, O2, Vodafone, EE and Three. Dunstone is chairman of TalkTalk but is more closely identified with Dixons Carphone having founded its forerunner Carphone Warehouse in 1989.
Sources close to Cameron said there had been no formal invitation from Dunstone. They added there may have been a discussion about the party due to the closeness of the pair.
David Hellier, Michael Bow