Friday 9 October 2020 10:30 pm

Major Tory donor, head of Garden Bridge and Brexit advisers receive top gongs in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

One of the largest Conservative party donors, the head of the failed £40m Garden Bridge and 10 Brexit advisers were among the senior figures to receive awards in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Tony Gallagher, who has donated almost £4m to the Conservative party over the last 13 years, was awarded a knighthood for his “services to land development and the property business”, the Cabinet Office announced today.

Read more: TfL boss that oversaw Crossrail and Garden Bridge fiascos set for an honour

Gallagher has donated more than £1.7m to the Tory party over the past two years via personal donations and through his Gallagher Limited and Countywide businesses.

The business tycoon, who manages a portfolio of properties across the world, is a long-time friend of several high-profile figures within the Conservative party. Gallagher hosted David Cameron’s 50th birthday bash at his Grade II Sarsden House in Chipping Norton in 2016. 

Gallagher did not respond to City A.M’s request for comment.

Mike Brown, the former Transport for London commissioner who oversaw the failed £40m Garden Bridge project and years of delays to the Crossrail project, was also awarded a gong in the Queen’s Birthday list this evening.

An inquiry by the London Assembly into the failed London project found that risks of the doomed bridge were “downplayed” to satisfy Boris Johnson when he was mayor of London.

Asked whether pressure was put on him to push the scheme through, Brown said: “Political pressure was not applied to me personally, but I was aware there was a lot of dialogue going on from the mayor’s office to people in my team.”

Brown was today awarded a CBE for his services to the transport sector.

London mayor Sadiq Khan mistakenly tweeted out news of his award this morning, taking to the social media platform to tell Brown: “Your work is a true testament to the values of community and support that underpin our city.”

Ten Brexit advisers were also handed out honours for their services to the government’s strategy for leaving the EU.

Four members of the Department for Exiting the EU (DExEU) were recognised for their services to government, including permanent secretary Clare Moriarty, director Nathan Phillips and senior private secretary Kate Bennett.

Six leaders of local Conservative party groups were also awarded honours in this year’s list, while zero Labour affiliates were recognised. 

Shanika Amarasekara, general counsel of the British Business Bank, which has been in charge of the UK’s Bounce Back Loans (BBLs), was also awarded an OBE in this year’s honours list. 

Small businesses have told City A.M. over the past few days that they are being shut out of potentially life-saving loans, because lenders are turning down new customers, despite the funds being fully guaranteed by the government.

The Cabinet Office declined City A.M‘s request to comment.

It comes after this year’s honours list was postponed so that individuals who played crucial roles in the wake of the pandemic could be added to the roster.


The Cabinet Office said it had made pains to “symbolise and showcase the spirit” of the UK through its honours list this year.

A pub quiz master, pizza chef and delivery driver were among the swathe of “unsung community heroes” honoured in this year’s Queen’s Birthday List, as the government used the moment to praise individuals vital to the nation’s fight against Covid-19. 

Dame Jane Acre, UCL professor and chair of the awards, said: “This honours lit is really quite special — it includes recipients from across all key sectors.”

Acre added the list “represents the breadth of service given by people of all backgrounds across the UK.”

Dizzee Rascal, Mary Berry, Paul Smith, Joe Wicks, David Suchet and Lorraine Kelly were included in the list of celebrities recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.

Marcus Rashford was awarded an MBE for his services “to vulnerable children in the UK during Covid-19,” after the footballer won a high-profile campaign urging the government to extend free school meals during lockdown. 

City figures also topped the list. Emma Walmsley, chief executive of GlaxoSmithKline, and Clare Woodman, chief executive of Morgan Stanley, were both awarded damehoods.

Read more: David Dimbleby throws hat in the ring for BBC chairman

Sky chief operating officer Andrew Stylianou took home an OBE, while Amelia Fletcher, board member of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and Richard Pennycoock, co-chair of the British Retail Consortium, were both handed CBEs.

Dame Jane said: “This pandemic is going to be with us for some time, and this is just the first group of people who we’ve looked at. There will be more people as we go on.

“This is the beginning of a story that we will continue with.”

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