The mystery woman and the £500K donation

A mystery woman emerged as one of the most generous donors in British politics today, with information about the payment revealing a strange arrangement for her death.

Donation figures for the second quarter of the year revealed "Ms Joan L B Edwards" as the second highest donor between April and June, giving the Conservatives £420,576 and the Lib Dems £99,423.

But the donation was not particularly intended for either party. Rather, it was a bequest intended to go to whoever was in the governing party of the day.

The money could just have easily gone to Labour, or any other party, if they happened to be in power.

City AM reported that the donation was split between Tories and the Lib Dems based on their number of MPs and Cabinet ministers.

Elsewhere the figures showed little change in how Labour and the Tories secure their financial backing.

The Conservatives received £4 million in donations, while Labour got £3.14 million and the Lib Dems £801,000.

Unite was the largest single donor, with £772,195 going to Labour from its coffers.

Seventy-seven per cent of Labour's total donations came from unions.

In addition the party registered £2.4 million in new loans, taking its total outstanding debt to £12.8 million.

"Despite Ed Miliband's promise of change, these independent figures prove his Labour party is still dominated by the trade unions," Tory chairman Grant Shapps said.

"They choose the candidates, pick the leader and remain Labour's biggest donors – providing three quarters of the party's money."

The Tories were, as ever, reliant on a handful of wealthy backers.

They registered £280,770 from City financier Michael Farmer and £263,600 from former Barings bank boss James Lupton.

In total, £1,042,970 came from people who had attended private dinners with David Cameron and other senior ministers.

The total figure includes £694,370 from donors in the financial sector.

"The Tories have raked in over £1 million from private dinners with David Cameron and senior ministers in the last quarter," shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said.

"More than two thirds of that comes from the City – the bankers and hedge fund bosses whose taxes David Cameron cut.

"Hardworking families are seeing their living standards squeezed, with prices rising faster than wages. Meanwhile David Cameron shows how out of touch he is, standing up for the millionaires who fund his party."

The Electoral Commission figures show that the 11 political parties registered in England and Wales together received £8,529,619 in donations over the quarter.