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Tory donors ‘who pay £3 million get seats in the Lords’

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Peter Andrew Cruddas was born in Hackney in 1953, the son of a Smithfield meat porter, he dropped out of school at 15 without any qualifications.

He credits the Boy Scouts with his early success, teaching him self-discipline and providing him with self-esteem.

‘The Boy Scouts enabled me to escape a violent home situation and the inner city. I sincerely believe that I would not be where I am today had I not become a member,’ he told The Independent in 2011.

Baron Cruddas cut his teeth in foreign currency trading rooms at banks including the Bank of Iran and Marine Midland.

He said: ‘I was just a dogsbody on the telex machines but I picked up trading, worked in banks and learned the ropes.’

In 1989, he set up CMC Markets, an online trading platform which rocketed to success in the 1990s as financial markets started moving to the internet.

The married father-of-four expanded the company and sold a 10 percent stake of the business to Goldman Sachs in 2007 for a reported $100 million.

Peter Cruddas, boss of CMC Markets, at his London offices in 2013

Peter Cruddas, boss of CMC Markets, at his London offices in 2013 

He was appointed co-treasurer of the Conservative Party in 2011 but resigned eight months later after an undercover newspaper investigation into ‘cash for access’ claims.

He was apparently recorded offering access to figures such as then prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne in return for ‘premier league’ donations in 2012.

The City tycoon denied wrongdoing and claimed his comments were just ‘bluster’.

He lost part of a libel action over the issue on appeal, although judges backed him over a separate allegation that he had countenanced breaches of electoral law surrounding foreign donors, and he ultimately won £50,000 damages on this point.

Baron Cruddas became a billionaire in 2012 and the 67-year-old pocketed a £55 million dividend from CMC’s soaring profits in 2020.

The firm performed spectacularly well during the Covid crisis, boosted by workers sitting at home with increased saving pots and more time on their hands than ever.

However, slow trading activity over the summer months meant that its share price had dropped sharply by around £200 million in September.

Boris Johnson sparked a cronyism row last December, when he over-ruled objections to make Baron Cruddas a peer.

At the time he was estimated to be worth £860million and had previously given more than £3.5million to the party.

In a letter to the Appointments Commission chairman Lord Bew, the Prime Minister rejected the ‘historic concerns’ raised about Baron Cruddas.

Explaining his decision, Mr Johnson said ‘the most serious accusations levelled at the time were found to be untrue and libellous’, and an internal Conservative Party investigation ‘found there had been no intentional wrongdoing’.

‘Mr Cruddas has made outstanding contributions in the charitable sector and in business, and has continued his long track record of committed political service,’ the Prime Minister said.

‘His charitable foundation, which supports disadvantaged young people, has pledged over £16 million to good causes through over 200 charities and he is a long-standing support of both the Princes Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh Award.’

On the appointment of Baron Cruddas, a statement on the gov.uk website said: ‘The House of Lords Appointments Commission was invited by the Prime Minister to undertake vetting of all party political and cross-bench nominations.

‘The commission is an independent non-statutory body. It provides advice but appointments are a matter for the Prime Minister.

‘The commission has completed its vetting in respect of all nominees.

‘The commission advised the Prime Minister that it could not support one nominee – Peter Cruddas.

‘The Prime Minister has considered the commission’s advice and wider factors and concluded that, exceptionally, the nomination should proceed.’ 

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