Rowland in U-turn over Tory role

DAVID Rowland, the property tycoon who was set to take up the role of Tory party treasurer, has decided to sacrifice the role to concentrate on his business interests.

Rowland, who donated millions of pounds to the Conservative party in the run up to the general election, returned to the UK from the Channel Islands last year to allow him to become Tory treasurer in October.

But yesterday he said he would not be able to give the role “the focus and attention it deserves” due to “developing business interests”.

Stanley Fink, the hedge fund icon, will now become treasurer instead. Fink, who is currently co-treasurer along with Icap chief Michael Spencer, will take up the role after the October Tory conference.

The Tories insisted Rowland’s last-minute volte-face had nothing to do with controversy over his status as a former tax exile nor criticism of his past business interests.

Rowland’s decision comes amid a coalition split over the appointment of Sir Philip Green as an efficiency tsar. Last week, City A.M. revealed that Liberal Democrat business secretary Vince Cable, a vocal opponent of tax avoidance, had not been consulted over the appointment of Green.

The Topshop tycoon has been criticised for saving a significant amount of tax on a £1.14bn dividend in 2005, which was paid by his retail empire Arcadia to Taveta Investments, a firm controlled by his Monaco-based wife.