Shropshire MP Mark Pritchard defends Russian-linked donation
A Shropshire MP has defended himself after being named in a media report as one of several Conservative politicians to have received donations from people with Russian links.
Wrekin MP Mark Pritchard received a £5,000 donation from a firm headed up by a former Russian arms boss, according to an investigation by The Times.
Mr Pritchard was given the donation by Aquind for his constituency of the Wrekin last year, before he was made a member of the Parliamentary intelligence and security committee.
He said today the donation was received in good faith, was declared properly and is completely legal.
The Times found that six current Cabinet ministers and eight junior ministers received tens of thousands of pounds from individuals or businesses with links to Russia.
It comes after a report by the intelligence and security committee into Russian interference in the UK criticised the Government's inaction.
The Times article said Mr Pritchard was given £5,000 by Aquind, an energy company planning to build a subsea power cable from Britain to France. Its director is Alexander Temerko, the former chief of a state arms company who is Ukrainian.
All those named in the report said no rules had been broken and that donations were declared and made by British citizens.
Mr Pritchard said: "All donations to the Conservative Party and its MPs are received in good faith, after appropriate due diligence, from permissible sources.
"Donations are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and Parliament, and comply fully with the law."
The constituency party of chancellor Rishi Sunak in Richmond, North Yorkshire, received £6,000 from Mr Temerko in 2015, according to the report.
Simon Hart, the Wales Secretary, was given £9,000 by Mr Temerko between 2016 and last year, and also received a further £23,000 from Aquind last year.
International development secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan received £2,500 from Mr Temerko and her Berwick-upon-Tweed constituency was given a further £17,000.
Theresa Villiers, who sits on the intelligence and security committee alongside Mr Pritchard, received £2,000 through her Chipping Barnet Conservative party last year from Lubov Chernukhin.
Mrs Chernukhin and Mr Temerko are both British citizens who were born in the former Soviet Union.
Since 2012, Mrs Chernukhin has given more than £1.7m to the Conservative Party. Meanwhile Mr Temerko's website described him as "a member and valued supporter of the UK Conservative Party since 2012".
Mrs Chernukhin is understood to have previously placed a winning bid of £160,000 at a 2014 Tory fundraiser to play a doubles game of tennis with Boris Johnson and then prime minister David Cameron.
Liberal Democrat Thomas Janke, who stood against Mr Pritchard in the last election, said taking donations like those mentioned in the report was "unwise".
Mr Janke, who remains the party’s parliamentary spokesman for the Wrekin, also called for a full investigation into Russian interference in the Brexit referendum, after the intelligence and security committee's report on Russian influence claimed the government was "playing catch-up" and needed to take "immediate action".
He said: “The Conservatives have been found sleeping at their post with their failure to conduct an assessment of Russian interference in the referendum. The Government must now urgently commit to investigating this and report before the end of the transition period.”
Mr Pritchard previously served on the Joint National Security Strategy Committee, NATO Parliamentary Assembly and was leader of the UK's delegation to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Having been appointed to the Intelligence and Security Committee, Mr Pritchard resigned as a consultant to global intelligence and security consultancy the Soufan Group on July 14.
The company had paid him £2,074.52 each month for eight hours work. The final invoice is due to be issued on August 1.