By Ian Dunt
Donations to the Conservatives from the financial sector have doubled since David Cameron became leader, according to new research.
The percentage of donations from companies and people connected to the financial services industry now accounts for more than half of the donations the governing party receives, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism found.
Using data from the Electoral Commission and Companies House, researchers found that City money now accounts for 50.8% of all Tory party donations - up from 25% when Mr Cameron took over as leader.
Over £11 million of City funds found their way into Tory party accounts last year, adding to a total of £42.76 million since 2005.
The research found that 57 people had contributed individual donations of over £50,000 last year, entitling them to membership of the Leader's Group.
The Tory party website says membership of the group allows them to meet the prime minister and senior party figures at "dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches".
The research could not come at a worse time for Mr Cameron, who is already facing criticism for allowing the banks and financial sector companies an easy settlement.
The much-trumpeted 'Project Merlin' agreement, where banks work with government on reforms to their remuneration packages looks likely to be announced this afternoon.
The announcement appeared somewhat frantic, with it only being confirmed this morning that it would go ahead.
"Treasury's handling of Merlin 'deal' with the banks is shambolic," shadow chancellor Ed Balls tweeted before the announcement was set.
"Rushing to get agreement but still don't know if it's announced today."
Vince Cable, business secretary, will publish the government's trade and investment white paper.