Banned City trader an organiser of Tories’ Black and White ball | Boris Johnson

The phone tycoon who arranged Boris Johnson’s £15,000 Caribbean holiday and a businessman who has been banned from City trading are among 11 Conservative supporters who helped organise the party’s fundraising ball, the Guardian can disclose.

A leaked document shows that the party’s annual Black and White fundraising event on Tuesday was organised by a committee that includes the Carphone Warehouse founder, David Ross, who called in a favour to provide the prime minister and his girlfriend, Carrie Symonds, with a free holiday in Mustique over the new year.

Jay Rutland, the Essex businessman whose wife is the socialite Tamara Ecclestone, is also on the list. He previously worked in the financial sector in the City of London but in 2012 was banned from trading over “market abuse”.

The Financial Services Authority ruled that Rutland, the son-in-law of Bernie Ecclestone was not a “fit and proper person” and that his behaviour demonstrated a lack of “honesty and integrity”. In 2016 Rutland was cleared by a court of assisting a drugs baron to evade justice.

At the event, held on Tuesday in Battersea Evolution club, south London, cabinet ministers including the prime minister rubbed shoulders with wealthy party supporters. The annual event raises millions for the Conservative party.

One donor paid £60,000 for gold and silver versions of the Brexit Day commemorative coin and a signed copy of the withdrawal agreement, it was reported.

The auction also included a flight in a Lancaster Bomber with the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, a game of tennis with Johnson, and lunch with the justice secretary, Robert Buckland – in a prison restaurant.

Around 700 attendees paid up to £15,000 a table and dined on red mullet, salsa verde and artichoke, according to the Mirror. A cabinet minister was placed on most tables and drinks included champagne and white burgundy.

Other auction lots included a night of whisky tasting with Liz Truss, lunch with Zac Goldsmith and dinner at a Mayfair club with Michael Gove.

A day in a box at Lords for a one-day cricket international between England and Australia with the chancellor Rishi Sunak was also sold off.

Boris Johnson at the event. Photograph: Instagram/@rishif_94

It is the ball’s organising committee that is asked to contact the great and the good to come along to the event, and donate or suggest possible prizes, according to one party insider.

A document leaked to the Guardian shows that the other committee members include Anya Hindmarch, a handbag designer and former businesswoman of the year, George Bamford, an entrepreneur and son of the billionaire Conservative peer and vocal Brexit supporter Lord Bamford, and Amit Bhatia, the founding partner of Swordfish Investments and chairman of Queens Park Rangers football club.

Two of the UK’s most prominent theatre impresarios are also listed as committee members. They are John Gore, a theatre producer who gave the party £1m in the run up to last year’s general election, and Sally Greene, the former chief executive at the Old Vic Theatre.

Nicholas Coleridge, former head of Condé Naste and the chair of the Victoria and Albert Museum, and Kate Reardon, a former editor of Tatler, are also listed, along with Phoebe Vela, the wife of the property tycoon John Hitchcox, who owns the Olympia exhibition hall in west London.

Jamie Reuben, the Melbury Capital financier and son of the billionaire property developer David Reuben, chaired the committee. He donated £50,000 to Johnson’s leadership campaign last year.

As well as the prime minister and the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, other politicians at the ball included the Foreign Office minister James Cleverly.

The event was compèred by Go Compare’s opera-singing mascot, Wynne Evans. One source claimed that Richard Desmond, the former owner of the Express newspapers, was also there.

Helena Morrissey, a financier, tweeted a photo of Johnson at the event with the caption: “Fun evening at the Conservatives Winter Party, with rousing speech (as always) by the Prime Minister.”

At the Tories’ summer ball last year prizes included a £15,000 eight-person excursion to shoot pheasants on an estate in Scotland, and a £27,000 all-expenses-paid trip to the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

At the 2018 Black and White ball a bidder paid about £55,000 for the privilege of spending a working day with Theresa May, who was prime minister at the time.

Figures released by the electoral commission in November showed that Johnson’s party raised more than £5.67m in large donations – defined as amounts of more than £7,500 – compared with £218,500 given to Labour in the run-up to the general election.

Source link