ANNA MIKHAILOVA: The £500k donor the Tories just can't shake off…

ANNA MIKHAILOVA: The £500k donor the Tories just can’t shake off…

The wheels of the cash-for-access carousel were as well-oiled as the guests at last week’s Conservative Spring Lunch.

Foreign Office Minister James Cleverly auctioned prizes to Tory donors bidding to rub shoulders with the great and the good. 

Clearly, Tory Party Chair Ben Elliot’s position as a trustee of the V&A has its benefits, as one prize was a private tour of the London museum by its boss Nicholas Coleridge (who attended the same prep school as Boris Johnson) followed by lunch at private members’ club Oswald’s.

The latter was sponsored by Dominic Johnson (no relation), who co-founded an investment firm with Jacob Rees-Mogg – and now happens to be a board member of the Department for International Trade.

Another auction item called the ‘Thatcher Package’ sadly included no tax cuts but a commemorative plate and bottle of whisky signed by the Iron Lady, plus tea with two of her colleagues whose combined age is 156.

Russian-born Lubov Chernukhin, the Tory mega-donor and wife of a former Kremlin minister, won a bust of Churchill. 

Telecoms tycoon Mohamed Amersi (pictured above with Boris Johnson) raised eyebrows after the successful £16k bid as he’s at war with the Tories over auction prizes he claims not to have received at prior fundraisers

The top prize, however, was for nine to have dinner in a Green Park mansion with ‘four guests from the Westminster political scene’.

That pleasure, as well as the Thatcher Package, went for a total of £16,000 to telecoms tycoon Mohamed Amersi.

His presence raised eyebrows as he’s at war with the Tories over… auction prizes he claims not to have received at past fundraisers. 

Amersi’s lawyers have demanded repayment of the £150,000 he bid for breakfast with Boris Johnson, sushi with Jeremy Hunt and a magic show with Trade Minister Penny Mordaunt. 

He also wants back £50,000 he paid in 2020 to renew his membership of Tory donor club, the Leader’s Group.

The self-described ‘philanthropist and thought leader’, who has called the donor scene ‘access capitalism’, has given more than £500,000 to the Tories since 2018.

The self-described ‘philanthropist and thought leader’, who has called the donor scene ‘access capitalism’, has given more than £500,000 to the Tories since 2018.

One source tells me Conservative Party HQ is ‘furious’ – ‘Amersi shouldn’t have been there,’ the source said, claiming that Amersi was ‘trying to make a point that he can’t be chucked out’ of the party.

Amersi, 62, tells me his issue isn’t with the party, but with its leadership – namely Elliot, who Amersi accuses of reneging on a promise to affiliate his Conservative Friends of the Middle East and North Africa to the Tory Party.

Amersi said his claims against Tory HQ remain outstanding and he’s still waiting for his breakfast with Boris and sushi with wannabe Tory leader Jeremy Hunt.

All of which suggests it could be (Maggie’s) handbags at dawn during his Green Park dinner party – with whichever four Tories draw the short straw.

Sir Keir Starmer has asked fellow QC Lord (Charlie) Falconer to marshal his legal defence over Beer and Currygate. 

But the request could backfire like a dodgy vindaloo as Tony Blair’s former flatmate Falconer has been privately telling colleagues that Starmer makes his stomach turn and that leadership rivals Rachel Reeves and Wes Streeting are more to his taste. 

Sir Keir Starmer has asked fellow QC Lord (Charlie) Falconer to marshal his legal defence over Beer and Currygate

With plans to save taxpayers’ money by getting rid of 91,000 civil servants, I look forward to Ministers ending the gravy train of management consultants from the Big Four audit firms, whose greed and gross negligence are rarely out of the news.

Last month, the Treasury disclosed it paid Deloitte £10 million (and counting) for an IT project to update how it records public spending.

And as we all grapple with the National Insurance tax hike to fix the Covid backlog, the NHS has awarded £21 million to consultants including Deloitte, PwC and KPMG for the same task.

KPMG was last week fined £14 million for fabricating documents to deceive the regulator.

And as we all grapple with the National Insurance tax hike to fix the Covid backlog, the NHS has awarded £21 million to consultants including Deloitte, PwC and KPMG for the same task 

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