APART from the Downing Street garden party on May 15, 2020, there was another unreported event that took place on the same day when the country was under lockdown.
According to a report in The Sunday Times,prime minister Boris Johnson’s adviser and confidant Lord Udny-Lister was busy organising a virtual meeting of the “advisory board”, a secret group of wealthy Conservative Party donors.
The report adds after large donations, members of the advisory board were granted access to the prime minister, ministers and top advisers of the government.
Reports suggest, investments or the donations came from property, construction and tobacco companies, whose businesses were affected by the Covid-19 lockdown. A few present in the meeting reportedly requested relaxation of measures.
After their large donations, members of the advisory board had been granted privileged access to the prime minister, ministers and advisers at the top of government.
Lister, 72, has accepted the existence of the board and said he attended it as “PM’s adviser”. Moreover, the party has formally accepted the existence of such a board.
The Conservative Party refused to name who its members were or how often they met. It is believed the members were also told not to record, take notes or publicly discuss about the group.
The Sunday Times report suggest that the rich donors have contributed £22 million to the Conservatives, including £9.9 million under Johnson. It has also been alleged that they have been granted more than access at No. 10.
Ravi Kailas, 55, an Indian energy investor whose company is domiciled in Jersey, is believed to be on the board and invited to the meetings.
Likewise, Mohamed Amersi, 61, a telecoms dealmaker is also reportedly to be part of the board.
During the pandemic, some of the members have even received public contracts approved by ministers and honours signed off by Johnson. Since the board is of the Conservatives and not of the government, its activities would fall outside the ambit of transparency laws.