Watchdog urged to investigate Tory donations from dissolved companies

Labour has called on the political party spending watchdog to investigate claims that the Tories accepted donations from companies that were defunct.

Anneliese Dodds, chairwoman of the Labour Party, has written to the Electoral Commission asking it to “urgently investigate” two donations made to the Conservatives that “do not appear to comply” with the law.

According to the Electoral Commission website, the Conservative Party accepted a donation of £10,000 from Stridewell Estates on November 20 2019.

Ms Dodds said the Companies House website states that Stridewell Estates was dissolved in November 2016 – more than three years before the donation.

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The commission also noted a Tory donation of £6,000 from Unionist Buildings on June 2 2017, which was accepted three days later despite the firm being dissolved in January that year.

A further donation of £4,000 from Unionist Buildings was registered by Conservative MP Wendy Morton on January 9 2020, almost three years after the company was officially dissolved, Ms Dodds said.

The Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act 2000 says company donors must be active in the UK, with party treasurers under obligation to check Companies House to see if the firm is in liquidation, dormant, about to be struck off, or if its accounts are overdue before deciding whether to accept a donation within 30 days of receiving it.

Ms Dodds wrote: “I trust you will agree that these cases require urgent investigation to understand why companies that have been officially registered as dissolved by Companies House made thousands of pounds in donations to the Conservative Party and a sitting Conservative Member of Parliament.

“I trust that any breach of the rules will be immediately subject to your enforcement policy, as part of the vital work to uphold public trust and confidence in the rules upholding electoral finance.”

A spokeswoman for the watchdog confirmed receipt of the letter and said it would “respond shortly”.