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PM to publish dinner guest lists
David Cameron has confirmed he had dinner with "significant" Conservative Party donors at his flat in Downing Street on three occasions since becoming Prime Minister, as well as at a post-election dinner in No 10 in 2010.
The Prime Minister said he will publish details of the meetings later, and will order the party to publish details of all meals with donors on a quarterly basis. But he insisted that most of the guests at the dinners were long-standing acquaintances and former Tory co-treasurer Peter Cruddas had never recommended that a donor should be invited.
Mr Cruddas was forced to resign his post on Saturday after the Sunday Times published secret recordings in which he told undercover reporters that they could secure meetings with senior ministers by giving the party money.
Pressure had been mounting on the Prime Minister to publish details of his private meetings with donors since the "cash-for-access" story broke at the weekend. He decided to use opening comments before a speech on dementia care in London to make a statement on the affair.
Mr Cameron said: "In the two years I have been Prime Minister, there have been three occasions on which significant donors have come to a dinner in my flat. In addition, there was a further post-election dinner which included donors in Downing Street itself shortly after the general election. We will be publishing full details of all these today. None of these dinners were fundraising dinners and none of these dinners were paid for by the taxpayer. I have known most of those attending for many years."
He added: "Peter Cruddas has never recommended anyone to come to dinner in my flat, nor has he been to dinner there himself. I already publish details of my external meetings as Prime Minister - the first Prime Minister ever to do so - and I also publish all meetings that I have with media editors and proprietors. From now on, the Conservative Party will publish details every quarter of any meals attended by any major donors, whether they take place at Downing Street, Chequers, or any other official residence."
He said it was publicly known that the Conservatives ran a "Leader's Group" for those who donated more than £50,000. "From now on, the Conservative Party will in addition publish a register of the major donors who actually attend those fundraising meetings," he added.
The Conservative Party released a list of dinners at No 10 attended by significant donors, including the "thank-you dinner" following the general election on July 14 2010, which was attended by Anthony Bamford of JCB, hedge fund tycoon Michael Hintze, Telegraph Media Group chief executive Murdoch MacLennan, Tory peer Lord Sainsbury of Preston Candover, Lansdowne Partners chief executive Sir Paul Ruddock, City financier Mike Farmer and Michael Freeman.
On February 28 last year, property tycoon and major donor David Rowland, who had previously been appointed party treasurer but quit before taking up the post, attended a dinner in the flat, along with party co-chairman Lord Feldman. On November 2 last year, Mr Cameron held a "social dinner for strong and long-term supporters of the party, with whom the PM has a strong relationship", including banker and Tory donor Henry Angest, Mr Farmer and oil company boss Ian Taylor. And on February 27 this year, he held a social dinner with former treasurer and major donor Michael Spencer and his partner.
Labour leader Ed Miliband is to respond to the Commons statement being made by Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude later.