City supports Tory charge

THE Conservative party has received a ringing endorsement by the City, as the publication of donations to political parties revealed a host of business figures have contributed to Tory coffers in the first quarter of the year.<br /><br />The largest single donor was hedge fund owner and former Man Group chief executive Stanley Fink, who announced his &pound;1.08m donation in January. But Fink, who is Tory party co-treasurer with responsibility for general election fundraising, was joined by a bevy of City leaders.<br /><br />Michael Farmer, co-founder of hedge fund Red Kite Metals, gave &pound;150,000 to the party, while Mark Bamford, of the Bamford family behind JCB, donated &pound;200,000.<br /><br />The party also received &pound;72,000 from chairman of liability insurance firm Marketform Holly Bellingham, while restaurateur Hani Farsi gave &pound;50,000, the threshold figure which earns a dinner with party leader David Cameron.<br /><br />Tory peer Lord Ashcroft, still under investigation over allegations that he channelled money to the party from overseas via his firm Bearwood Corporate Services (BCS), gave nothing, although BCS donated consultancy work worth more than &pound;75,000.<br /><br />Accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) also donated to David Cameron&rsquo;s electoral campaign, providing professional advice worth more than &pound;100,000, although it also advises other parties.<br /><br />Overall, the Conservative party far outdid Labour in terms of donations, taking more than &pound;4m in the first quarter compared to Labour&rsquo;s &pound;2.8m, most of which came from unions.<br /><br />Labour&rsquo;s largest individual donation came from businessman Amin Hemani, who gave &pound;51,200.