Major conservative party donors maintained a PR firm partly owned by party co-chair Ben Elliott, which raised further questions about the ambiguity of his business and political interests.
Since the appointment of British Prime Minister Boris Johnson as leader of the Conservative Party in July 2019, the overlap between Elliott’s business network and his fundraising responsibilities for the Conservative Party has been increasingly scrutinised.
Financial Times last week reveal Elliott, 45, oversees a secret Conservative Party “advisory board”, some of which donate at least £250,000 to the party, meeting regularly with Johnson and the Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak.
Labor Party leader Sir Kill Starmer said it appeared to be a case of “massive cash use”. He told the UK’s Financial Times that “one of the biggest challenges in the coming elections is cleaning up politics,” arguing that Johnson presided over a “dirty” culture.
The Duchess of Cornwall’s grandson, Elliot, helped the Conservative Party garner record donations from major donors in the 2019 general election.
But he has also been criticized for his handling of disputes involving Mohamed Amersi, a donor and client of Elliot’s high-end concierge business, Quintessentially. This week, former Conservative MP Charlotte Leslie on the other side of the controversy. Defendant Elliot combined his political role with his business interests.
The Financial Times has discovered a new connection between Elliott’s business interests and party affairs as three major party donors are currently clients of the public relations firm Hawthorne Advisors, which he co-founded.
Elliott stepped down as director of Hawthorne in April 2020, but he still owns 22% of the stock, which means he can still share the company’s profits from client commissions. Since Elliott became co-chair of the party, these three donors have donated approximately £1.2 million to the Conservative Party and are currently paying Hawthorne for public relations services.
A spokesperson for Elliott said, “As a policy, no donations were requested from Hawthorne’s customers. The Conservative Party has a large fundraising team. He is not involved in Hawthorne’s work and his stay at the company.” never talks to Hawthorne’s clients about the appearance of the job.”
Hawthorne said Ben has been an investor in Hawthorne since 2013, long before he held the unpaid position of chairman of the Conservative Party. He has never been actively involved in this activity. Ben’s stock is in the form of a trust fund. still completely excluded from activity ».
In 2018, “GQ” reported in a profile of Hawthorne-sponsored actor Johnny Depp that Eliot personally contacted the magazine and arranged cum mealHawthorne said this does not mean participating in the company’s business.
Apart from public relations, the company also does lobbying. Although the law requires lobbyists to identify their clients in a public register, there are no such rules for public relations work.
Hawthorne’s public relations clients include Britannia Financial Group, a London-based brokerage, and a wealth management firm controlled by Venezuelan banker Julio Herrera. According to LinkedIn, Herrera’s administrative assistant as president of the BFG was Elliot’s personal assistant as of September 2020. Since December 2019, the BFG has donated £472,000 to the Conservative Party, including a £250,000 donation in November. The BFG confirmed that the company hired Hawthorne last year and declined to comment.
Mercantile & Maritime, a commodities trading company founded by former oil trader Glencore Murtaza Lakhani, said they signed a public relations services contract with Hawthorne, “in a competitive marketing process in which they participated with several other organizations. He said, “Hawthorne was originally introduced by a law firm we work with. Hawthorne was listed as Lakhani’s representative for March 2020 and January this year. Donated £500,000 to the Conservative Party in 2019.
The third donor is Unatrac Limited, which distributes caterpillar equipment and belongs to the family business empire of Egyptian tycoon Mohamed Mansour. Since 2015, Unatrac has provided £530,000 to the Conservative Party, including £210,000 since Elliot became co-chair. In 2018, the investment division of the Mansoor Family Group became a client of Hawthorne. Mansoor and his team did not comment.
Hawthorne is currently lobbying for Huawei, a Chinese tech conglomerate that the UK has banned from entering the country’s 5G infrastructure.
On the issue of the advisory board, the Conservative Party argued this week that the Labor Party has its own donor club, Chairman’s Circle, which provides opportunities for those who, along with Starmer and other shadow government members, to donate £5,000 to the party. Huh.
But Starmer said during his visit to Scotland that it differs from the advisory board, whose existence has never been officially recognized before.
“I have a network of people donating to the Labor Party,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times. “We do not conduct any transactions, we do not offer special offers and, of course, we do not have an advisory board.”
He added that advisory board members and the people they meet should be “completely transparent”.
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