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On Monday night, Kensington’s Victoria and Albert Museum hosted the Conservative Party’s summer fundraising party.
According to the Sarawak Report, tickets to attend the event cost £2,000 while each table of ten saw guests shell out up to £20,000.
It is believed Prime Minister Boris Johson gave an address, while other cabinet MPs such as Nadine Dorries, Liz Truss, Rishi Sunak, Sajid Javid, Priti Patel, Oliver Dowden, Nadhim Zahawi and Mark Spencer were also in attendance.
From allegations that the event hosted guests with dodgy links to conflicts of interest in using the iconic V&A Museum, the event has not been without controversy.
Here are all the reasons why the Tory summer fundraising party was so contentious:
Guests with controversial links
With Russia continuing to wage war in Ukraine, it was rather controversial that among the guestlist was Russian socialite and major Conservative donor Lubov Chernukhin.
The Conservative Party's biggest female donor is married to Vladimir Chernukhin, Vladimir Putin's former deputy finance minister, who claimed he earned £42m a year in Russia.
Johnson's government has been heavily criticised for taking money from donors linked to Russia, given the crisis in Ukraine.
On Twitter, Investigations Editor for Byline Times, Sam Bright wrote: “Another interesting fact: last night's event was attended by major Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin – the wife of Vladimir Putin's former deputy finance minister.”
\u201cAnother interesting fact: last night's event was attended by major Tory donor Lubov Chernukhin \u2013 the wife of Vladimir Putin's former deputy finance minister.\u201d
In total, Chernukhin has given more than £2.2 million to the Conservatives
According to The Spectator, the party featured a fundraising event with some interesting prizes up for grabs for the highest price.
One such prize was reported to be a dinner with Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and David Cameron. It was referred to as the “dinner of the century” and according to a source speaking to Insider, it went for £120,000.
Politico reports that other auction prizes included an African safari that sold for £65,000, a shooting weekend in Market Harborough that went for £37,000, a wine tasting lunch for £30,000 and Chelsea v Arsenal tickets for £5,000.
Cost of living
With the cost of living rising to a crisis point, millions of people in the UK are struggling to pay their bills, fill their cars and put food on the table.
But, at the Tory summer fundraising party, there was little sign of that as guests hobnobbed over wine, filet steak, salmon tartare, passionfruit meringues, truffles, and seemingly a favourite of the Tories, cheese platters.
The tone-deaf event was protested by members of the museum’s Public and Commercial Services Union and Labour MP John McDonnell also joined them.
Conflict of interest
According to the industry magazine Third Sector, trustees of the V&A did not hold any discussions about holding the Conservative Party fundraiser, despite there being a potential conflict of interest.
Charity governance experts have been left surprised by this decision, given that one of the V&A’s trustees, Ben Elliot, is also a co-chair of the Conservative Party.
V&A trustees are appointed by the government and last year it received over £79m in public money.
In a clip posted by Led by Donkeys, they explained the chair of the V&A board is Conservative supporter Nicholas Coleridge and revealed that an exclusive private tour of the V&A was auctioned off at a prior Tory fundraising lunch last month.
\u201cTonight the @V_and_A museum is hosting the Conservatives\u2019 lavish summer fundraising party. It shouldn\u2019t be happening.\u201d
As an exempt charity, the V&A is subject to government and Charity Commission guidance that reads “even the appearance of a conflict of interest can damage a charity’s reputation, so conflicts must be managed carefully”, and reminds trustees that “they have and must accept ultimate responsibility for directing the affairs of a charity”.
Jay Kennedy, director of policy and research at the Directory for Social Change, told Third Sector: “Especially given that the V&A also receives public money, if I were a trustee there I would be demanding that the board fully considers the relevant guidance, especially on managing conflicts of interest, and has made a record of the discussion in formal minutes which shows their reasoning.
“Trustees are meant to avoid exposing their charity’s reputation to undue risk, and conflicts of interest are a common way that reputational damage can happen.”
A Conservative Party spokesperson told indy100: "Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process. The alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals – or else, being in the pocket of union barons, like the Labour Party.”
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