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Friday, August 05, 2022

Fizzing with Liz

Having got rid of one party leader, whose reign was mired by allegations of impropriety and by investigations into some of his activities, the Tories seem intent on electing another who likes to court controversy.

The Independent reports that Liz Truss is facing the possibility of her first major sleaze probe amid claims she failed to declare “murky donations” related to her leadership campaign.

The paper says that Labour have appealed to the cabinet secretary to open an investigation into the Tory frontrunner over funding for a so-called “Fizz with Liz” champagne dinner, while the Liberal Democrats have also written to the parliamentary commissioner for standards asking her to open an investigation of her own.

Truss is facing questions about why she did not declare the thousands of pounds worth of hospitality spent on schmoozing Tory MPs:

The funding for the event, hosted in Mayfair, was paid by a multimillionaire private members' club owner and aristocrat Robin Birley and was attended by around a dozen Conservative MPs.

Asked why the dinner – said to be used to sweet-talk Tory MPs ahead of her leadership bid – did not appear on the MPs' register of interests, Ms Truss’s campaign said it had “nothing to do with her” and was in fact hosted by Mr Birley.

But this account was disputed by other MPs present who told The Independent that they had been invited by Ms Truss, and that she was the host and not Mr Birley, who “turned up briefly to say hello”.

An invitation to the dinner sent from Ms Truss’s Commons email address, seen by The Independent, said: “Liz Truss MP is delighted to invite you to attend a dinner at 5 Hertford Street on 26 October at 7.30pm. Most grateful if you could confirm attendance by 10 October. Best wishes, Office of Liz Truss.”

In her letter calling for a probe to be opened, Labour's deputy leader noted that “by using parliamentary paper and explicitly inviting colleagues within her capacity as an MP via her parliamentary email address, Ms Truss’s event clearly falls under the transparency requirements of the Members Code of Conduct”.

She added: “This £3,000 sum was a donation from a very wealthy individual which Ms Truss has failed to be honest and transparent about.”

Is there no end to this Tory merry-go-round?
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