Tories face £5m black hole after launch of inquiry into Ashcroft

They say you will be judged by the company you keep so why the hell would John Key be seen with Lord Aschcroft? What’s more why did he meet with him in Secret?

David Cameron faces embarrassment and the prospect of a near £5m black hole after the electoral watchdog began a formal investigation into the Tories’ biggest donor.

The Electoral Commission has launched an inquiry into donations made by a company controlled by Lord Ashcroft, the party’s deputy chairman and key strategist. The move follows complaints that £4.7m of gifts to the Conservatives from Lord Ashcroft’s company, Bearwood Corporate Services, could have breached electoral laws.

The party could be ordered to pay back the money if it is judged to have wrongly accepted it.

Bearwood’s registered address is in Southampton but it is reported to have received its income from companies based in the central American country Belize, where Lord Ashcroft still has extensive business interests.

Political parties are only allowed to receive donations from companies that are registered in Britain and do business in this country.

The Conservative Party insisted yesterday that the donations were “legal and permissible”. “We are confident these contributions to the party are entirely acceptable,” Liam Fox, the shadow Defence Secretary, said.

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