United and Cecil Club
The club is registered at a stables in Iver, Buckinghamshire owned by the club's honorary secretary and former chief executive of the Tobacco Manufacturers Association Tim Lord. According to the Parliamentary register, the address is used as a riding school.
Tickets for the 2014 annual gala dinner were sold at £250 a head and raised at least £90,000 with, at least, an additional £40,000 through an auction. The guest of honour for the dinner was the chancellor George Osborne.
In the build up to the 2015 general election, the majority of the money raised by the club has been given to marginal seats.
After the annual gala dinner in 2014, co-treasurer of the club Jacob Steinberg, was asked by the Guardian how much money the gala dinner raised, or if anyone could become a member. He replied with: 'It is a members’ club. I cannot breach the confidence of our members. If you or anyone wants to join, they can apply.'
- Christopher Fenwick, former deputy chairman.
- Dennis Davidson
- Nigel Fenner-Fownes
- Patrick Burke
The Labour Party have criticised the Conservative Party for being bankrolled by 'a shadowy elite through the U&C'. Labour MP Jon Ashworth said, 'We now need to know who is behind the United & Cecil club and the contact they have had with senior Conservatives]]'.
Conservative MP Andrew Bridgen has said evenings such as the dinners held by the U&C are required for the party to take on Labour and their trade union backers. He said 'We can’t go to Len McCluskey for another million. This is how we do it'.
U&C uses a loophole to allow donors to stay anonymous by donating values under £7,500 through the club. Tamasin Cave of Spinwatch and the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency, said the system was open to abuse. 'It is astonishing in today’s world to find the conservatives deliberately exploiting a loophole that allows its donors absolute anonymity. This is not petty cash either, but sums large enough to help shift voting. If these donors want to influence British politics, they should have the courage of their convictions and declare it. This government aspires to be the most transparent in the world. They should start by following the spirit of the rules on donations. Come clean on who your backers are David Cameron. This is not how modern politics is done.'
According to the Electoral Commission, between 28 March 2001 and 4 May 2015, 268 donations to the Conservative Party or members of the party had been recorded by the 'United and Cecil Club' or the 'United & Cecil Club' coming to a total of £1,057,295.63.
According to The Electoral Commission:
- In December 2009 Britt Allen Shaw donated £8,541.78 in cash
- In October 2014 Gerald Sidney John Hyam donated £27,940 to the club as an auction prize
- In November 2014 Richard Girling donated £8,4000 in cash
- On 30 December 2014 Alexander Temerko donated £8,000 through two auction prizes and £7,600 through two cash donations
- Jason Beattie, Tories get more than £1million from secretive supper clubs, The Mirror, 24 August 2012.
- Tom Warren, Nick Mathiason and Victoria Parsons Low profile United & Cecil Club funnels cash to Conservative must-win marginals The Bureau of Investigative Journalism, 5 July 2014, accessed 5 May 2015.
- Rajeev Syal Wealthy Tory backers jet in for gala dinner held by secretive members club Guardian, 16 October 2014, accessed 5 May 2015.
- Oliver Wright Tory dining club secretively channels hundreds of thousands of pounds of funding by anonymous wealthy donors Independent, 16 May 2014, accessed 5 May 2015.
- Electoral Commission Donation search:'Cecil club', accessed 5 May 2015.