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Latest 12 June 2021

Handing out peerages

Peter – or Baron, as for now we must call him – Cruddas was once a Treasurer of the Conservative Party.

In March 2012 the Sunday Times published a rather mean piece about him which included the claim that (as the Court put it) “in return for cash donations to the Conservative Party, [he] corruptly offered for sale the opportunity to influence government policy and gain unfair advantage through secret meetings with the Prime Minister and other senior ministers.”

He sued the Sunday Times for defamation and, to be fair to him, he won but the Court of Appeal also said the claim above was substantially true. As a candidate for a great honour you would think he was, well, you would think he was an odd one.

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On the other hand, he is Very Rich. And he has given quite a lot of money to the Conservative Party: over £3m. He gave a quarter of a million quid to them on 10 January 2020 and a few weeks later it emerged he’d been nominated as a Baron by Boris Johnson.

He was crowned, or whatever happens to them, ‘Baron’ Cruddas on 2 February 2021 and a few days later, on 5 February 2021, he gave the Tories another half a million. We’re not saying any of this was pre-arranged – there’s no evidence of that and buying and selling peerages is a crime – but the timing of it all is, well, it is odd.

Given his past record, the House of Lords Appointments Commission thought he wasn’t the kind of man we should be giving a peerage to. And it advised Boris Johnson not to make him a Baron. But Boris did anyway – making history by ignoring the Appointments Commission for the first time ever.

We don’t only think it is odd. We also think it is unlawful. We think a fair-minded and informed observer, presented with the facts of the matter, would conclude that there was a real possibility or danger of bias in the Defendant’s decision making. We also think that the Prime Minister took legally irrelevant considerations – past donations and the prospect of future donations – into account in making him a Baron.

And so we’re suing. We’ve instructed Bindmans LLP, Dan Squires QC and Alice Irving. You can read our letter here.

Make no mistake, we intend to issue proceedings. But this time, we’re not setting up a crowdfunder. What we’d really like you to do instead is (1) sign our petition calling for him to be stripped of his peerage and (2) share this blog.

Of course, if you’d like to support the general work of Good Law Project you can do so here