A BILLIONAIRE donated half a million pounds to the Tories days after Boris Johnson gave him a seat in the House of Lords, it has emerged.

Boris Johnson overruled advice from the Appointments Commission to make Peter Cruddas, who failed the vetting process, a peer.

The long-time donor was formally introduced in the Lords on February 2, and gave £500,000 to the Conservatives on February 5 – it was accepted three days after. It was the peer’s highest ever cash contribution.

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Former Tory treasurer Cruddas, who was named the richest man in the City of London on the 2007 Sunday Times Rich List, has given millions to the Tory Party and also funded the Vote Leave campaign ahead of the Brexit referendum.

A Conservative spokesperson said: “Donations to the Conservative Party are properly and transparently declared to the Electoral Commission and are published by them.

The National:

“Fundraising is a legitimate part of the democratic process: the alternative is more taxpayer-funding of political campaigning, which would mean less money for frontline services like schools, police and hospitals – or else, being in the pocket of union barons, like the Labour Party.”

Johnson was criticised for approving Cruddas’s appointment back in December, after the commission raised “historic concerns in respect of allegations made during Mr Cruddas’s term as treasurer of the Conservative Party, and the judgement reached by the Court of Appeal in subsequent libel action”.

This is understood to be a reference to a court action after Cruddas was filmed discussing donations in a Sunday Times sting nine years ago.

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There was “no evidence” rules were broken, the Electoral Commission said, and Cruddas won £180,000 in damages the following year. The damages were reduced in 2015, when part of the ruling was overturned by the Court of Appeal.

The Prime Minister defended Cruddas’s appointment, saying the most serious accusations levelled at him “were found to be untrue and libellous”.

"In order to avoid any ongoing concern, Mr Cruddas resigned from his post, and offered an apology for any impression of impropriety, and reflecting his particular concern for integrity in public life,” he went on.

“An internal Conservative Party investigation subsequently found there had been no intentional wrongdoing on Mr Cruddas’s part.

“The events in question date back eight years, and the Commission has found no suggestion of any matters of concern before or since that time.”