- Through her career as an MP, Theresa May has received hundreds of thousands of pounds in financial donations from bankers, business owners, and property magnates.
- Receiving campaign donations is a routine activity for any politician. But each gift carries a potential conflict of interest.
- She received funding from Remain supporters after the referendum, despite her commitment to Brexit.
- May received £5,000 from a senior citizens’ care home operator whose company has been repeatedly cited by authorities for unhygienic conditions and undignified treatment of its patients.
- About £70,000 has come from hedge fund operators and other investors.
- May’s donors also include figures caught up in David Cameron’s donations for honours controversy.
LONDON — Theresa May has been Prime Minister for just over a year, although her premiership looks more fragile than ever as she tries to hold together a minority government in the House of Commons.
She first became an MP in 1997, when she won the safe Conservative seat of Maidenhead. Since then, May has received over £324,000 in donations during her time as an MP, cabinet minister, and prime minister. Her most notable donations came during the Tory Party leadership race, which she won in 2016.
Seven of her donors are members of the Conservative Party’s Leader’s Group, which is only open to those who donate £50,000 to the party annually. “Members are invited to join Theresa May and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches,” the Leader’s Group promises.
During her career, May has taken money from a senior citizens’ care home operator, a McDonald’s franchise owner, Remain supporters, hedge fund operators, and people involved in the mining and oil industries.
Receiving campaign donations is a routine activity for any politician. But each gift carries with it a potential conflict of interest if the prime minister’s policies appear to benefit those who made the donations. Here are some of her more controversial donors.
May took money from Remain supporters after the EU referendum
May took money from donors who favoured Remain, after Britain voted in the referendum to stay in the EU. Despite this, May has backed a “hard Brexit,” and has even said, “no deal is better than a bad deal.”
The prime minister, who went onto say “Brexit means Brexit,” received donations from Ian Taylor, David Brownlow, and Alexia Florman, all of whom gave money to the Remain side in the referendum.
Taylor, who is chairman and global CEO of The Vitol Group, gave £359,000 to various Remain groups, including the main Britain Stronger In Europe group, and has given a further £77,000 to the Conservatives since May became prime minister.
Vitol is an oil company which was found guilty of grand larceny in New York in 2007 for being one of the 2,200 companies involved in giving $US1.8 billion in kickbacks to Iraq’s national oil company during Saddam Hussein’s regime.
Brownlow gave £100,000 to the Stronger In campaign before giving £25,000 to May’s Maidenhead constituency during the 2017 general election, which suggests he still supports the prime minister.
The “Conservatives In” Remain campaign received £32,000 from Alexia Florman, who also gave £5,000 to May’s leadership campaign. Florman’s husband Mark Florman was the founder of the merchant banking group Maizels Westerberg. He also co-founded the think tank Centre for Social Justice, alongside MP and former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith. Between 2003 and 2007 Mark Florman donated £137,300 to the Conservatives.
None of May’s financial backers supported the Leave campaign.
One of May’s financial backers runs a chain of care homes that has been repeatedly cited for unhygienic conditions
One of May’s donors is Ravinder Singh Gidar, the owner of a chain of care homes for the elderly. She received £5,000 from Singh Gidar in 2016, during her successful bid to become Conservative Party leader and prime minister. Singh Gidar has given over £74,000 to the Conservative Party over the years, according to the Electoral Commission.
Singh Gidar’s company, Gold Care Homes, has been criticised in the past by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), after “serious or repeated breaches” at two of the company’s 23 nursing homes. The Care Quality Commission took enforcement action on two of Gold Care’s nursing homes in 2014. Heath Lodge was fined £4,000 for failing to have a registered manager in place whilst the other, St Katherine’s in Wantage, was issued with a formal improvement notice in 2013 after concerns about staff available for the dementia unit and an inadequate water heating system.
“We saw one person laying in a urine soaked bed, naked and unable to call for assistance.”
An investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found that a third of Gold Care homes failed to meet at least one standard required in inspections. In a 2014 report on Queensway House, in Hemel Hempstead, the CQC said: “We saw one person laying in a urine soaked bed, naked and unable to call for assistance.” Inspectors also found “some of the bedrooms that we visited were not visibly clean and one had faeces stains on the carpet. In four of the bedrooms, we found that the mattresses were not clean: one had a pool of urine between the mattress and bed base and was malodorous. In another room, we found that the bed had been made, but the bed sheet was stained with dried urine.”
Gold Care Homes did not respond to a request for comment.
The prime minister received donations from The City, where businesses want a “soft” Brexit
May has received money from hedge fund operators and businesses who have an obvious vested interest in the fate of The City post-Brexit. Many of these companies have operations across Europe and would be interested in continued access to the Single Market.
IPGL Ltd was the highest-profile City donors to May’s campaign, alongside Abel Halpern of TPG Capital, a private equity firm.
The chairman of IPGL, Michael Spencer, told the Evening Standard in March, “We haven’t had the sort of language from the prime minister that I would like to see and hear. We have not yet heard her speak out confidently of commerce in her six or eight months [in the job].” Spencer said he fears Brexit mortally damaging the City and the European financial scene: “If the Europeans seek to damage the City, and our Government fails to protect it, the risk is that our business will relocate not to the EU but to New York. Europeans will be the net losers and the US will be the big gainer.”
“I think it’s a view that’s widely held in business and financial circles. We would like to hear the Government speak more vocally in favour of those who pay the taxes, those who generate the wealth.”
May’s donors were blocked from becoming lords in David Cameron’s resignation honours list
Elsewhere in May’s register of interests, two people on the list have previously been reported as being offered honours by former prime minister David Cameron, most notably Spencer, who has been blocked from being made a lord multiple times, most recently in 2013 and 2016.
His peerage was blocked by the Cabinet Office because he was on the board of directors of ICAP, a firm that was involved in the Libor interest rate scandal. ICAP was fined £54 million in 2013 by the Financial Conduct Authority and the US Commodities and Futures Trading Commission for its role in fixing the yen Libor interest rate. It was fined a further £11.3 million by the European Commission in 2015 for facilitating several cartels involved in setting the yen Libor rate. Libor rates are used, ultimately, to set interest rates on consumer debt products like mortgages.
Friends of Spencer told the Financial Times in 2016 that it would be the “height of unfairness” if he was denied a peerage because of Libor, pointing out that ICAP’s senior management were cleared of wrongdoing and the ICAP brokers who were arrested were acquitted. Three ICAP traders were arrested and tried for wire fraud but were acquitted and there has never been any suggestion that directors were aware of the scandal at the firm.
Spencer said: “It was widely reported that Cameron put me in his list for a peerage and indeed I … indeed … I was turned down. And I … you know … I’ll be absolutely upfront: I was extremely saddened, extremely disappointed.”
Fellow donor Ian Taylor was reportedly nominated for a knighthood in 2016 by David Cameron, following his resignation as prime minister. Taylor later requested that he was not given an honour, after media speculation. He said: “In these circumstances, I think it is right that I request that my name does not go forward, if indeed I was being considered for an honour.”
Here is a breakdown of all the money and gifts Theresa May has received over the past 20 years.
2016 — present
Date registered — size of gift in pounds — description of donor, if known:
12/04/17 — £25,000 — from David Brownlow to May’s Maidenhead constituency party. He is an entrepreneur and frequent donor to the Conservatives who was recently appointed as Vice Chairman for Campaigning in the Conservative Party. He co-founded the recruitment consultancy firm Huntswood.
20/09/16 — estimated value £1,500 — Honorary membership for life at the Carlton Club, a private members club in Pall Mall historically popular with Tories. All party members are offered membership. The club only accepted women as full members in 2008.
May’s Conservative Party leadership bid
01/08/16 — £5,000 — from Atul Pathak to support her leadership bid of the Conservative Party. Pathak is a McDonald’s franchisee, owning 29 restaurants across north and west London and Berkshire.
01/08/16 — £25,000 — from Baron James Lupton, an ex co-treasurer of the Conservatives who has donated over £2.5 million to the party. He was made a life peer by David Cameron in 2015. He joined the board of Lloyds Bank in May as the government sold its last stake in the bank and is a senior adviser at Greenhill, an investment bank who advises on transactions including mergers and acquisitions. Lupton was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £10,000 — from Mark Neale, the owner of retail chain Mountain Warehouse.
01/08/16 — £5,000 — from Ravinder Singh Gidar, a millionaire landlord and owner of a string of care homes and other properties. Gidar has previously been part of the elite Conservatives’ Leader’s Group .
01/08/16 — £15,000 — from Daniel Green, the founder of discount retailer Brand Centre. Green was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £30,000 — from Sir Michael Davis, who is currently the treasurer of the Conservative Party. He made his money through mining. Davis was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £30,000 — from Abel Halpern, a partner at TPG Capital, a private equity fund. Halpern leads TPG’s “consumer-facing enterprise group in Europe,” and also active in “emerging markets, commodities and infrastructure,” according to the company’s website. Halpern was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £25,000 — from Sunmark Ltd, a distribution company for products across the world. It also produces its own brands. The managing director, Dr Rami Ranger, was awarded a CBE by the Conservative government for his services to business on the New Year’s Honours List 2016.
01/08/16 — £5,000 — from Tratos UK Ltd. Tratos is a firm that produces cables.
01/08/16 — £20,000 — from Nicholas Campsie, a partner at Eton Park Capital Management, a hedge fund that shut down in March. He also reportedly funded Labour moderate MP Chuka Umunna in 2016.
01/08/16 — £15,000 — from Ian Taylor, chairman and Global CEO of The Vitol Group, an energy and commodities company that trades “over seven million barrels of crude oil and products a day,” according to its website. Taylor was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £5,000 — from Alexia Florman, a leading donor to the Remain side in the EU referendum.
01/08/16 — £20,000 — from IPGL Ltd, a private equity firm run by Michael Spencer. He was reportedly refused a peerage by the civil service despite Cameron trying to make him a Tory lord. He is also the head of Icap, one of the world’s largest financial brokerages and was Conservative Party treasurer under David Cameron until 2010.
01/08/16 — £15,000 — from Leopold Noe, a property developer. Noe was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £15,000 — from John Holmes. BI cannot be certain who Holmes is.
01/08/16 — £5,000 from Anil Sharma. BI cannot be certain who Sharma is.
01/08/16 — £15,000 from Gursamarjit Singh, a property developer. Singh was a member of the Conservatives’ Leader’s Group in 2016.
01/08/16 — £15,000 from Michael Lewis to support leadership bid of the Conservative Party. Lewis is a fund manager and the former a former vice-president of the pro-Israel lobbying group Bicom.
The prime minister raised £275,000 in the 2016 leadership race, which only lasted 12 days. May’s bid to be Conservative leader was made easier by all of her rivals dropping out of the race — first Boris Johnson, then Michael Gove and finally Andrea Leadsom. The biggest donors to May were Abel Halpern and Michael Davis, who each gave £30,000 to her effort to succeed former PM David Cameron.
The £25,000 donated by Baron James Lupton is a drop in the ocean compared to the estimated £2.5 million he has given to the Conservatives in the past. He is a Tory donor who has been rewarded with a seat in the House of Lords.
A spokesperson for the prime minister told the Daily Mail last year: “Surplus money raised but not spent will be donated to Conservative campaign headquarters, as per the rules set out by the 1922 Committee.”
2011 — 2015
11/06/15 — £5,000 from Patricia Roeser. BI cannot be certain who Roeser is.
11/06/15 — £10,000 from Mr and Mrs P Nicholl. BI cannot be certain who the Nicholls are.
11/06/15 — £5,000 from Max McNeill. BI cannot be certain who McNeill is.
11/06/15 — £19,975 from David Brownlow.
07/06/15 — discount card from fashion designer Amanda Wakeley.
07/06/15 — discount card from Russell and Bromley.
16/04/12 — discount card from L.K. Bennett.
16/04/12 — discount card from Hobbs.
May was a cabinet minister throughout the years David Cameron was prime minister, as home secretary from 2010 until she became prime minister in July 2016.
2004 — 2010
07/06/10 — £3,000 from RHOBUCK Ltd.
25/10/09 — £1200 for two tickets to the Carlton Political Club Dinner from Michael Hintze.
11/05/08 — 6 bottles of Veuve Cliquot ‘La Grande Damme’ champagne from Moet Hennessy.
26/03/06 — guest of Brit Awards Ltd at the Brit Awards 2006.
06/01/06 — return helicopter flight from London to Leeds, paid for by Lord Philip Harris.
While the Conservatives were in opposition for 13 years May occupied various roles within the shadow cabinet, including shadow work and pensions secretary and shadow leader of the house.
1997 — 2003
28/02/03 — May was the recipient of £5245.20 worth of travel by BAA Plc, which would go onto become Heathrow Airport Holdings Ltd.
21/11/02 — gift of three pairs of ‘Hot2Trot’ shoes from Russell and Bromley.
12/10/00 — May and her husband were “entertained to dinner at the Waterside Inn at Bray” by Lyondell PLC, and given a gift of a Roux Brothers cookbook.
21/08/00 — May and her husband were guests of the Director of Henley Festival of Music and Arts at the festival.
23/03/99 — May and her husband were guests of Lyondell PLC at “a musical soirée and dinner at Kensington Palace.”
23/03/99 — May and her husband were guests of Nortel Networks at a concert and dinner at the Royal Albert Hall.