Sunday, March 26, 2006

Arms and the man

Arms dealer Wafic Said was a major financial supporter of the Tory Party in the 1990s. According to today's Sunday Times, the little inconvenience of a ban on foreign donations hasn't put a stop to that.

'The Tories under David Cameron have accepted £100,000 from the wife of a foreign arms dealer barred from making political donations in Britain.

'Wafic Said, a Syrian-born Saudi, and his British wife Rosemary are accused of exploiting a loophole in the rules to fund the Tories, who are under increasing pressure to reveal their financial backers.

'According to a senior Conservative source, Said used to give donations to the Tories until he became a tax exile and foreign gifts were banned. His wife now bids at fundraising auctions, which friends say is his way of supporting the party.

'Last month the Saids bid £100,000 for an eight-person dinner that will be provided by Albert Roux, the chef, at Cameron’s first fundraising ball. Nicholas Soames, the former shadow defence minister, and Boris Johnson, current higher education spokesman, were offered as wine waiters.'

Posh boys Soames and Johnson pouring the booze? It'll be the first evening's honest work of their Old Etonian lives.

'Over the past two years the Saids are understood to have given at least £550,000 to the Tories at auctions but none of it has been declared publicly.'

All of this is playing badly with loyal rank and file over at the must-read blog Tory Diary. One commenter writes:

'So I presume the big businesses David Cameron wants to stand up to don't include the international arms trade.'

Well said, that chap.

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