The two leading candidates in the race to be Central Suffolk and North Ipswich's new MP have angrily denied claims that they bought their way on to the ballot paper.

Campaigning website openDemocracy revealed that Labour candidate Kevin Craig, a successful business leader, gave £100,000 to the party last year and a further £39,000 to fund Wes Streeting's work as shadow health secretary.

Meanwhile Lord Michael Spencer, the father of Conservative candidate Patrick Spencer and a former Conservative Party treasurer, gave the Tories £250,000 shortly before his son was selected by local members from a shortlist of three candidates.

Mr Craig said he was angry about any suggestion he had "bought" his way on to the ballot paper.

He said: "I am very proud of the fact that I have made a success of my business so after coming from an ordinary background I am able to support the party financially. 

Kevin Craig is Labour's candidate for Central Suffolk and North IpswichKevin Craig is Labour's candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich (Image: Kevin Craig)

"All my donations are fully recorded and frankly after 17 years as a Labour councillor and contesting a safe Tory seat (South Suffolk) nearly 20 years ago I am disgusted that anyone would suggest I was selected to contest this seat was because of my donations.

"I was selected early in the year long before Dr Dan Poulter switched to Labour - it really wasn't considered a very good prospect for Labour at that time."

Patrick Spencer, Conservative candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.Patrick Spencer, Conservative candidate for Central Suffolk and North Ipswich. (Image: Paul Geater)

Mr Spencer insisted his selection had been fair and open: "I was delighted to be selected for the seat of Central Suffolk and North Ipswich.

"It was a competitive selection process where the association voted for me over two other strong candidates.

"Now we are focussing on campaigning across the constituency, and making the case to people to vote Conservative on July 4."

The links between the donations and the selections were highlighted by Green Party co-leader Adrian Ramsay, who is standing in the neighbouring Waveney Valley seat.

He said: "It does look worrying that these selections followed large donations. It is very important that politics in this country is open and clear."

The other candidates for the seat are Liberal Democrat Brett Mickleburgh, Reform's Tony Gould, Daniel Pratt of the Greens and independents Charlie Caiger and Mike Hallatt.