A financier who donated nearly Â£ 150,000 to the Tories has become a peer for life and been given a ministerial post, Downing Street has announced.
Malcolm Offord, founder and chairman of Edinburgh-based ’boutique investment’ firm Badenoch and Co, will become a peer for life, according to a statement, and become junior minister in the Scottish office.
Offord was the Conservatives’ candidate in the Scottish parliamentary elections in May, a move which drew accusations of cronyism as he had donated Â£ 147,500 to the party. Offord ran as a list candidate in the Lothian area, but was not elected.
He is the latest Tory donor or associate to be sent to the Lords under Boris Johnson.
The appointment was condemned by the SNP. Party Cabinet Office spokesperson MP Stewart Hosie said: âThe stench of creeping cronyism that surrounds this Conservative government is growing day by day. There are already serious questions Conservatives face over using millions of pounds of taxpayer dollars for vanity projects and Covid contracts, but now assigning roles and peers to party donors shows contempt for democracy. “
As of December last year, out of 54 people ennobled by Johnson, 13 had either funded the Tories or had a job or a personal connection to Johnson.
Among the peers named in December were Johnson’s own brother Jo and his friend Evgeny Lebedev, the owner of the Russian-born newspaper who previously hosted the prime minister at his Perugia mansion. Former Johnson chief strategic advisor Edward Lister was also named a peer, as were a string of well-known Brexiters including former England cricketer Ian Botham.
Also on Thursday, Downing Street announced that Stephen Parkinson, former Tory staff and candidate, lobbyist and campaign manager for Vote Leave, who was made a peer in 2019, had been given another government post. Already whip in the Lords, he was appointed Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Digital, Culture, Media and Sports.
The latest crop of peerages brought the total size of Lords to over 830, despite an agreement between the parties three years ago that the number should be reduced to 600 over time.
Former upper house speaker Lord Fowler has been among the critics of its enlarged size, saying there is a particular need to reduce the number of ‘passengers’ who have contributed little.