Cameron discloses dinners at Downing St., ‘Chequers’

By Adrian Croft and Mohammed Abbas, Reuters

LONDON–British Prime Minister David Cameron disclosed on Monday that a handful of British financiers and hedge fund bosses have dined at his private apartment in Downing Street and his official country house as he tried to subdue a “cash for access” party funding scandal. The premier announced an internal party inquiry after the resignation of a top Conservative fundraiser caught in a Sunday newspaper sting telling potential donors they could expect meetings with Cameron and possible influence over policy. Cameron’s office also published details of major donors whom he invited to private dinners in Downing Street and at Chequers, the prime minister’s country residence northwest of London.

It listed four small evening gatherings in Downing Street since Cameron took power in 2010, including one on Nov. 2 last year attended by Ian Taylor, chief executive of Vitol, the world’s biggest oil trader, metals hedge fund tycoon Michael Farmer and banker Henry Angest, along with their wives. Of a dozen couples or individuals who dined with Cameron, including eight who were at a post-election celebration in July 2010, six were financiers, including three hedge fund managers, and two were property magnates. Two run manufacturing firms. During a speech on Monday, Cameron said: “In the two years I have been prime minister, there have been three occasions on which significant donors have come to dinner in my flat. “There was a further ‘thank-you dinner,’ which included donors, in Downing Street itself shortly after the general election,” he said, having at first resisted calls to reveal his guest list. “None of these dinners were fund-raising dinners and none of these dinners were paid for by the taxpayer.”