BORIS Johnson is facing fresh calls to resign after it was revealed multimillionaire Tory donors were given unprecedented access to the UK Government and PM through a secret advisory board.

The Times reports that the ultra-wealthy group were granted contact details of ministers and advisers which allowed some to directly lobby the government on Covid-19 procurement and strategy.

In return for a £250,000 donation the board members, whose investments span property, construction and big tobacco, were granted privileged access to Boris Johnson and his closest advisers.

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The members include an entrepreneur currently facing trial for rape and sexual assault and the wife of Russian President Putin’s former deputy finance minister.

The SNP have said it is “aburd” that Johnson is still in post as PM amid the latest revelations of “sleaze” in the Tory government, adding that a resignation is well overdue.

On May 15 2020, the same day Johnson and his top staff were pictured enjoying cheese and wine in the Downing Street garden, one of the PM’s advisors took part in a virtual meeting of the board.

At 3pm Lord Udny-Lister, one of Johnson’s longest standing advisers, spent an hour on Microsoft Teams answering donors' questions and addressing concerns.

The National:

Lord Udny-Lister admitted to meeting with donors virtually 

It is understood that the ultra-wealthy group were alarmed at the impact of Covid-19 on the businesses and called for swift action - including relaxing measures designed to stop the virus spreading. A witness to the meeting told the Times: “It was implied that what we said would go straight up to the PM.

“It was a two-way street. They gave us information on what was going on. We gave our advice.”

According to the newspaper, Lister, 72, became the first senior Tory to admit to the existence of the board which he attended “when asked” as the “PM[‘s] adviser”.

As the board is a Conservative body, rather than officially part of the government, its activity falls outwith the remit of transparency laws, with members allegedly told not to record or take notes of briefings, or to discuss the group publicly.

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Lister was not the only top Tory involved - Ben Elliot, 46, Tory party chairman and Prince Charles’ nephew was also reportedly at the meetings.

A huge leak of thousands of documents to the Times has revealed that before and during and the Covid-19 pandemic around a dozen people were routinely invited to meetings of the board.

Of that group, six have appeared on The Sunday Times Rich List and four are billionaires.

The combined wealth of the board members, companies and families reportedly exceeds £30 billion.

In total the group has donated £22 million to the Conservative party, of which £9.9m was under Johnson.

The National:

Johnson is facing fresh calls to resign amid the revelations

The elite group, after they had given a quarter of a million to the Tories, were told they would be asked for their ideas and “thought leadership” of the party and the government’s policy and political direction.

In return they were given unfettered access and insight into Downing Street, Whitehall and CCHQ.

SNP Depute Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald MP said: “It is utterly absurd that Boris Johnson believes he can remain in office - indeed, it is absurd that he is even still in office after the long list of scandal and sleaze that seems to be endemic in his premiership.

"Under Boris Johnson, the UK is in a state of constant chaos. Westminster is engulfed in sleaze, corruption and criminality, the Tory cost of living crisis is spiralling out of control, and his reckless hard Brexit has inflicted billions of pounds of damage to Scotland's economy.

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“He should have gone long ago - and it is a disgrace that Tory MPs are continuing to sit on their hands and keep him in office. His arrogance is quite frankly dangerous.

“Scotland never voted for this Prime Minister or this government, yet we’ve had to put up with it and the long list of scandals that are costing taxpayers’ millions.

“We have another and better option open to us through independence, which will rid us of this sleazy Westminster government and allow us to do more to build a fairer society, where it is not one rule for the Tory elite and another for the rest of us.”

Asked for a response to the revelations, a Conservative spokesman said: “We can confirm that, on occasion, senior Conservative politicians, just like senior Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians, do in fact attempt to raise funds for the party they represent.”

Which members of the secret Tory board have been named?

A dozen ultra-wealth Tory donors have been named by the Times as members of the secret advisory board.

They are:

  • Lawrence Jones - a 53-year-old internet entrepreneur worth £700m, currently facing trial for rape and sexual assault. Jones was repeatedly invited to meetings of the group despite the police investigation being known. Jones denies the allegations.
  • Lubov Chernukhin - a 50-year-old former banker and wife of Putin’s former deputy finance minister Vladimir Chernukhin. She reportedly lobbied against higher taxes for the ultra rich. The family is estimated to have £366m in wealth, much of it held offshore.
  • Lord Spencer of Alresford - a 66-year-old financier worth £1.2bn who has given more than £2.4m to the Tory party. Four years after an honours committee blocked him being ennobled over his firm’s alleged role in the Libor banking scandal, Johnson gave him a peerage.
  • Philip Bouverat - a 64-year-old who attended on behalf of JCB chairman Lord Bamford. Bmaford has a net worth of £4.5bn and donated £5.2m to the Tory party.
  • Jamie Rebuen - a 34-year-old billionaire and co-owner of Newcastle Football Club who donated £816,000 to the Tories, mostly under Johnson.
  • Sir Tony Gallagher - a 70-year-old property tycoon worth just over £1bn, has given £2.8m to the Tories. Of this he gave 1.2m under Johnson, who gave Gallagher a knighthood in 2020.
  • Javad Marandi - a 54-year-old businessman who made his fortune in tobacco, property and retail and was awarded an OBE for philanthropy in 2019.
  • Leo Noe - a 68-year-old property tycoon who has given £1m to the Tories, and is worth £606m.
  • John Gore - a 60-year-old theatre investor who has given the Tories £4m.
  • Ravi Kailas - a 55-year-old Indian energy investor whose company is registered in Jersey.
  • Mohamed Amersi - a 61-year-old telecoms dealmaker.
  • Robert Walters - a 67-year-old recruitment tycoon who donated just under £400,000 to the Tories, half of which was under Johnson.