Tory conflict of interest over BT break-up

Questions have been raised over a possible conflict of interest arising from George Osborne’s announcement yesterday that he intends to break up BT as part of his plans for a broadband revolution because it “holds back” companies like Virgin and Carphone Warehouse.

The co-founder of Carphone Warehouse David Ross is a close friend of David Cameron, donating more than £130,000 to the Conservative party. A man not without controversy, he was forced to resign as Boris Johnson’s Olympic Adviser in December 2008 after breaking stock exchange rules by using £157 million of Carphone Warehouse shares to prop up his struggling property empire, and only last December he was questioned by police over an alleged assault.

Here is a detailed breakdown of his donations to the Conservative party; figures obtained from the Electoral Commission:

Received by

Donor

Date

Donation

Accumulation

CCO

Mr David P Ross

09/05/2001

£25,000

£25,000

CCO David Ross 31/03/2006 £5,300 £30,300
CCO Mr David Ross 20/07/2006 £4,460 £34,760
CCO Mr David Ross 02/10/2006 £3,600 £38,360
Corby David Ross 06/06/2007 £2,500 £40,860
Corby David Ross 19/09/2007 £1,500 £42,360
CCO Mr David Ross 20/12/2007 £41,000 £83,360
Corby Mr David Ross 20/12/2007 £1,500 £84,860
Corby Mr David P J Ross 12/03/2008 £1,500 £86,360
CCO Mr David PJ Ross 08/05/2008 £30,500 £116,860
Corby Mr David PJ Ross 12/06/2008 £1,500 £118,360
Corby Mr David PJ Ross 10/09/2008 £1,500 £119,860
CCO Mr David PJ Ross 10/11/2008 £8,000 £127,860
Corby Mr David PJ Ross 17/12/2008 £1,500 £129,360
Corby Mr David PJ Ross 11/03/2009 £1,500 £130,860
Corby Mr David PJ Ross 18/06/2009 £1,500 £132,360
Corby Mr David PJ Ross 10/09/2009 £1,500 £133,860

The Conservative party were unavailable for comment.

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17 Responses to “Tory conflict of interest over BT break-up”

  1. Andrew Regan

    *Left Foot Forward* "Tory conflict of interest o…": Questions have been raised over a possible conflict of… http://bit.ly/9zsakw #labour

  2. Jonathan Sheppard

    And the conflict of interest between the hundreds of thousands the CWU have given Labour and Royal Mail’s protected status? Though why the CWU give so much to the party when under Labour the Post Office Network has been decimated. Probably because people operating post offices were in a different Union. So much for brotherly love!

  3. Mark

    Good detective work Shamik. Nice to see you use some evidence this time!

    But remember co-founder of Carphone Charles Dunstone was a target of Lord Levy. A quick root on Google reveals Dunstone saying:
    “I saw Lord Levy walk past me,” said Mr Dunstone. “Then he spun round, came back and said: ‘You are Charles Dunstone, aren’t you?’ I said yes. He said: ‘Good. Can we put you down for a million?’ ”

    A million! Dunstone said no.

    In other words, both parties are highly dodgy here. At least we can keep an eye on these things. Keep digging Shamik.

  4. Guido Fawkes

    CWU conflict of interest is worth millions not thousands.

  5. Liz McShane

    Trade Union donations are made up of individual members’contributions and they do vote on this, quite different to the influence of a single rich individual.

  6. Henry

    Mark: there is nothing inherently dodgy about making a political donation (although that’s increasingly conventional wisdom). It only becomes disreputable when you expect something in return, such as a contract or a peerage.

    And you have to be suspicious when, for example, healthcare companies make contributions to Andrew Lansley’s office.

  7. Romana

    I’m not sure what you mean about Royal Mail’s protected status. Do you mean protected in the way that other companies are allowed to cherry pick and take on all of the profitable bits of mail delivery while Royal Mail have a protected obligation for single price universal delivery?

  8. Alan W

    Good piece, Shamik. It is interesting how inconsistent the Tories’ committment to competition is when it comes to the telecommunications sector.

    Contrast their attitude to BT with Cameron’s response when Ofcom decided to challenge the monopolistic power wielded over the satellite broadcasting market by his new best friend Rupert Murdoch. Far from supporting Ofcom’s attempts to promote competition, Cameron instead announced that a Tory government would scrap the pesky regulator and leave Murdoch to rule the roost.

    Clearly when it comes to BT, the interests of Cameron’s chums just happen to swing the other way, so competition is good this time.

  9. Richard Blogger

    What I don’t understand is why are the Tories so desparate to break up BT now? I mean, they created BT (and Lord Tebbit got a well paid job with them after he left government). What has happened – why didn’t they want to create “competition” when they first privatised it? Hmmm, I guess there wasn’t any political donations then to npersuade them otherwise.

  10. Mark

    Remember that a sitting Labour MP, Patricia Hewitt, sits on the board of BT. The article omits to mention this. She collects £60,000 a year, effectively earning money at three times the rate Ross is donating it.

    Richard Blogger: presumably because broadband didn’t exist in the 1980s? BT today still has a monopoly on the “last mile” section of cables from the exchange to your home or workplace.

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  13. savecosalt_com

    So after David Ross’ shares scandal at carphone and lots of questions about Boris Johnsons judgement in appointing him to Locog, I see Boris has re-appointed David Ross on the board of the London Legacy Development Corporation.
    Is Boris not aware of the scandal at Cosalt? it seems the FSA are in “discussions” with David Ross and Cosalt as confirmed by the company secretary in a letter dated 20th December 2012 to 28 concerned MPs.
    Oh, and then there is the FSA discussions at WH Ireland plc where Mr Ross is part of a consortium (which includes Lord Marland) that owns 26% of the company. Boris – why???

  14. ray odonnell

    Re- David Ross at Cosalt,the struggle to produce the accounts seems to match with the 12 months ban,on another takeover of Cosalts remaining 44% shareholders,who refused the derisory “offer” of one fith of a penny @share in January 2012 (unable to mount another takeover for 12 months as per regulations) Cosalt shares have been suspended,untill the accounts are presented ? The takeover bid is by Oval(100% owned/chaired by David Ross who are witholding the accounts ?) The 44% owner/shareholders have joined with 28 MPs,MEPs,Lords,who have asked questions in parliament,regarding accounts examination as per regulation,every 12 months.The accounts are 2 years overdue on the 31st December 2012,the next takeover attempt allowed by the regulations is 2nd Febuary 2013.Obvious to everyone except the FSA,SFO,UKLA.One law for them and one……..? The accounts will not be presented if a Oval manage it.savecosalt.com and SORT shareholders, are fighting against the Oval/Ross Trojan Horse,insider takeover…..IMO…

  15. ray odonnell

    As to my comments,anyone needs information regarding the Cosalt Affair and the 28 MPs,MEPs,Lords who have uestioned the overdue Cosalt accounts,can contact SORT via ezaspect@gmail or savecosalt_com

  16. Albert

    im sure in the mind of David Ross these are not donations… they are investments. Ross seems desperate to squeeze out all other shareholders at cosalt plc so that all his buddies in high places can award the wind energy contracts to him and he can pocket millions.

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