Boris Johnson is asked a question about the Tories’ vetting of Russian donors on LBC — and immediately opens up another can of worms:
“We’ve done, obviously we are relying heavily on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office because they are leading on this and I’ve had absolutely categorical assurances
“I think I’ve met this gentleman’s wife and she seemed very nice but they’ve checked him/her out as far as they possibly can and we think that he doesn’t come anywhere near this category [of being a Putin crony] and that is reason really.
“I am assured by the FCO and they ought to know.
So … errr … why are taxpayers footing the bill to check the backgrounds of controversial donors to the Conservative Party? Labour are posing the following questions:
- What checks have CCHQ conducted on Russian donors to the Conservative Party?
- Which Conservative Party donors have the FCO looked at?
- How many FCO staff and at what grade have worked on checking Conservative Party donors and over what time period?
- What advice has the FCO passed on to David Cameron, Boris Johnson and CCHQ, and given this was funded by taxpayers’ money will this now be made public?
The involvement of the Foreign Office is even more intriguing given that the Conservative Party already had their own private vetting arrangements in place, retaining Control Risks Group — an international consultancy specialising in “political, integrity and security risks” — to vet staff and individuals participating in their campaigns.
Getting taxpayer-funded officials to do this would obviously be cheaper.