Last week Unearthed, the Greenpeace investigations unit, published a recording of Mark Littlewood – Director of the Institute of Economic Affairs – boasting that funders could get to know ministers on first-name terms and be involved in “the Brexit influencing game”.
But as well as offering potential donors access to ministers, the Red Roar can reveal the think tank’s trustees have handed millions of pounds to the Conservative Party – and in one case paid to dine with Theresa May.
Hedge fund billionaire Michael Hintze has donated over £4 million to the Tories, and is reportedly a member of the party’s exclusive Leader’s Group of elite donors – who pay £50,000 a head to socialise with Theresa May. Hintze is a supporter of hard Brexit who once gave Liam Fox a ride in his private jet and donated £100,000 to the Vote Leave campaign, which is now under investigation by the Electoral Commission.
Neil Record, the finance industry millionaire who chairs the IEA, has donated £450,000 to the Conservatives. But it is his £32,000 in donations to new Tory Health Secretary Matt Hancock that have raised the most concern, because the IEA has called for the NHS to be scrapped under Record’s leadership.
Jon Moynihan, another IEA trustee, has donated £102,000 to the Tories. He sold his business PA Consulting for $1 billion in 2016, and is another supporter of hard Brexit handing £122,000 to Vote Leave.
Another IEA trustees made a smaller donation to the Tories; Life Vice President of the IEA and Tory member of the House of Lords Nigel Vinson has given £6,000 to the party. Trustee Linda Whetstone is married to Conservative councillor Francis Whetstone, who gave £1,050.
The trustees’ combined £4,586,169 donation to the Conservatives is likely to prompt further questions about the think tank’s political neutrality as it faces a Charity Commission investigation in the wake of its director’s promise to arrange face-to-face meetings with ministers.