Cameron defends Tory links to Ashcroft

TORY leader David Cameron has defended his party's links with major donor Lord Ashcroft, indicating that he was “very happy” the Electoral Commission was formally investigating the legality of up to �5m million given by one of the peer's companies.

Graham Dines

TORY leader David Cameron has defended his party's links with major donor Lord Ashcroft, indicating that he was “very happy” the Electoral Commission was formally investigating the legality of up to �5m million given by one of the peer's companies.

“I am very happy that the Electoral Commission is looking into the arrangements,” said Mr Cameron. “We will abide by all the findings of the regulator.”

Mr Cameron said he applied the following tests to donations: “Are these companies operating in the UK? Are they proper companies? And are they making a donation that is permissible and declared? And if they are, then that is acceptable.”

He added: “I have made sure that we have proper people to check these things. We have a proper compliance department - unlike the Labour Party (which doesn't) seem to have any checks at all.”

The Commission's inquiry into Lord Ashcroft's company Bearwood Corporate Services will examine claims that the firm does not “carry on its business in the UK,” a key requirement for donations.