Reject party donations from individuals linked to arms deals, Tory leadership candidates told

Reject party donations from individuals linked to arms deals, Tory leadership candidates told

Tory leadership contenders have been called upon to make clear they would not accept cash donated to the party from individuals with links to the arms trade if they become prime minister.

It comes after the most recent tranche of donations released by the Electoral Commission reveal the wife of an arms fixer involved in a huge multi-billion deal with Saudi Arabia in the 1980s gifted hundreds of thousands in recent months.

Since September 2018, Rosemary Saïd, who appears on the Electoral Commission records as Ann R Saïd, has donated £342,000 in total to the Tories.

In February alone, two payments were made – one of £175,000 and a second of £9,725. It was recorded by the Conservative Party with the electoral watchdog in April and published last week.

Her husband, Wafic Saïd, helped broker Britain’s biggest arms sale – the Al-Yamamah deal – signed by the former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in 1985. 

The deal was subject to an investigation by the Serious Fraud Office, but was discontinued in 2006 after an intervention by the former Labour PM Tony Blair amid concerns relations with the Saudi kingdom were being hindered.

Before 2000, Syrian-born billionaire Mr Saïd had himself donated to the Conservative Party, before rules were put in place only allowing those on the UK electoral register to give to political parties. 

The Independent understands Ms Saïd, a UK citizen, is herself independently wealthy and her father was formerly a donor to the Conservative Party.

Rosemary and Wafic Said (Rex)

Jon Trickett, the shadow minister for the cabinet office, said: “Money linked to arms deals has no place in politics, but yet again the Tories have shown themselves willing to take large cash hand-outs from the rich and powerful, with almost of no exceptions. 

“The fact of the matter is that under the Tories our democracy has become flooded with money, much of it from unknown sources and other countries. With Theresa May on her way out, all of the Tory leadership candidates must come forward and make clear they won’t accept cash linked to arms deals.”

Andrew Smith, of Campaign Against Arms Trade, added: “The Al-Yamamah deal exposed the deep links between the UK government, the arms industry and the Saudi dictatorship. 

“The impact of those links is being felt every day by the people of Yemen, who are ensuring a brutal bombardment that UK-made jets are playing a central role in.”

He added that no political party should be accepting money from those linked to arming or supporting human rights abusing regimes.

A Conservative Party spokesperson said: “All donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission, published by them, and comply fully with law.”

The Saïd family declined to comment when approached by The Independent.

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