80 Tories referred to Electoral Commission

Eighty Conservative MPs have been referred to the Electoral Commission in the latest twist in the party funding row.

The list of MPs, which is said to include both David Cameron and George Osborne, has been handed to the commission by Labour MPs John Mann and Kevan Jones.

They allege that the Tories named in their correspondence have failed to register donations through unincorporated associations in the correct fashion.

The development comes as work and pensions secretary Peter Hain battles for his political survival amid potentially three investigations into donations made during his unsuccessful deputy leadership campaign.

Mr Hain has already apologised for what he called an administrative error, while Gordon Brown has backed his minister; dubbing the £103,000 worth of unregistered donations “an incompetence”.

Unincorporated associations, also known as patron’s clubs, can allow donors to give money to political parties without their names being publicised.

According to Mr Mann and Mr Jones, the patron’s clubs referenced in their letter to the Electoral Commission have not been registered under the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act.

A Tory party spokesman has already dismissed the claims.

“This is a desperate and hypocritical stunt designed to deflect attention from Labour’s current difficulties,” a representative told politics.co.uk.

“Donations to local Conservative associations from unincorporated associations are all fully declared and comply with the law.”

He added that Labour itself had received £2 million from unincorporated associations since 2001.

A spokesperson for the Electoral Commission said it would review the evidence provided before responding accordingly.