David Cameron hits back at accusations of cronyism on China trip

David Cameron hits back at accusations of cronyism on China trip

David Cameron has hit back at accusations of cronyism over his choice of companions on his first trip to China in three years.
The Prime Minister believes he is “absolutely right” to include his father-in-law and near neighbour in the delegation of business leaders accompanying him around the country.
David Cameron had been accused of cronyism after it was revealed one of the Conservatives' biggest financial backers and a former Downing Street aide have also been given seats on the Prime Minister's plane for a three day trip to China.
Their presence drew Labour allegations that Mr Cameron is using his position to help his friends. No 10 said business delegates were chosen because of the importance of their companies, not social or political connections
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said that Mr Cameron “doesn’t accept at all” the charges of cronyism, stating the delegates are among those offering “the best business opportunities” Britain has to offer and will "bang the drum" for British business.
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He said: “What the Prime Minister thinks is it’s absolutely right for him to take a hundred plus strong delegation across the board, across, I think, many of the key sectors of the British economy and I think it’s absolutely right that they are with the Prime Minster on this important trip.
"The Chinese economy is a hugely important opportunity for international companies and we want to make sure British companies are at the forefront of that."
He added that the delegation list was drawn up by UK Trade and Industry and was “determined on the basis of the very best business opportunities because we obviously want to bang the drum for British business in China. That is at the heart of the Prime Minister’s trip.”
Included in the business delegation is Viscount Astor, the step-father of Mr Cameron's wife, Samantha. The Tory peer is representing Silvergatemedia, a media rights firm where he is deputy chairman.
Another delegate is Lord Chadlington, Mr Cameron’s neighbour in Oxfordshire and the president of his Witney constituency association. He is representing Huntsworth, his public relations and lobbying firm.
Two years ago The Daily Telegraph revealed that the Prime Minister had paid Lord Chadlington almost £140,000 for a piece of land at his constituency home. At the time Mr Cameron was criticised for not disclosing the deal on either the House of Commons Register of Interests or the register of ministerial interests.
Also on the plane is Lord Leigh of Hurley, a financier who has donated more than £200,000 to the Conservatives and runs a party fund-raising club for wealthy donors.


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4-12-2013 15:48