Hemmings, who is worth close to £1bn, transfered the money through four of his companies, making him one of the Tories’ largest corporate sponsors.
The media outrage over the donation concerns the Tories’ new policy on slot machines. In 2005 a new Gambling Act was introduced to reduce the maximum stake on slot machines from £2 to £1, banning arcades and betting shops from owning more than four per premises. However, Conservative minister, Tobias Ellwood, demanded a review of the rules in early 2008.
He said: “Family arcades are a vibrant part of many seaside towns and it is wrong that they have suffered from an unintended consequence of government legislation.” The £50,000 donations, from Northern Trust Company, Trust Inns, Crown Leisure and Classic Lodges (all owned by Hemmings and his wife), followed soon after this speech.
It’s yet another blow for the party’s repuatation as the "cash for favours" scandal erupts anew.
The Conservatives have denied that the donations will influence party policies. Hemmings has declined to comment.
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