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Sunday, March 31, 2024

Another donor gets a contract

The Independent reports that a company run by a major Tory donor and former party treasurer was handed lucrative government contracts to advise the Post Office.

The paper says that Malik Karim, who has given the Conservatives £1.6m since 2014, won two major deals last year through his finance firm Fenchurch Advisory, which were worth £1.5m and £175,000 respectively.

Documents uncovered by this publication show Fenchurch was handed the payments to offer the beleaguered Post Office “advice on banking services and the retail banking market”.

Critics complained that the contracts “smack of cronyism” and raised questions about how government contracts are awarded.

The revelation comes as the Conservatives remain embroiled in a row involving the party’s biggest donor, Frank Hester, who allegedly said MP Diane Abbott made him “want to hate all Black women” and that she “should be shot”.

The comments by Mr Hester, who has donated £10m to the Tories and whose company has won more than £400m of NHS and prison contracts in the last eight years, were labelled “racist and wrong”, but the Conservatives have refused to return the money.

Rishi Sunak was also caught up in a row for handing a knighthood to a major Tory donor who gave £5m to the Conservative Party last year.

Businessman Mohamed Mansour, who is a senior treasurer at the party and a former Egyptian government minister, was knighted for business, charity and political service.

Mr Karim’s Fenchurch contracts were awarded while the Post Office was grappling with the growing fallout of the Horizon IT scandal and warning of the risk of branch closures due to spiralling costs.

Weeks later, the government ruled that every wrongly convicted sub-postmaster would be given the option of receiving £600,000 in compensation or pursuing a formal claim for more.

But despite being under considerable financial pressure, the Post Office brought in Fenchurch Advisory for five months to advise on the retail banking market – meaning it was paid around £336,000 per month for the work.

The general election cannot come too soon.
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