Johnson overrides recommendation and grants controversial Tory donor peerage

Johnson has reversed a policy of moderation when it came to new peerage since he came to power Credit: PA

Boris Johnson is facing a cronyism row after granting a controversial Tory donor a peerage, sparking a backlash from the Speaker of the House of Lords.

Mr Johnson brushed aside objections from the House of Lords Appointments Committee to elevate Tory former treasurer Peter Cruddas to the upper house.Mr Cruddas was accused in 2013 of offering access to Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne in return to cash donations to the Tory's when he held the role of co-treasurer of the Conservative Party.

Mr Cruddas has remained a large donor to the Conservative Party and donated £50,000 personally to Mr Johnson in 2019 to help him run his leadership campaign.

Following the announcement of the elevation of Mr Cruddas and 15 other people to the House of Lords the Lord Speaker Norman Fowler criticsed the move.

Lord Speaker Norman Fowler Credit: PA

He said: “Mr Johnson has added 16 to his list of appointments bringing the total for the year up to 52 new peers over two lists.

“This list will bring the total in the House of Lords to over 830 – almost 200 more than the House of Commons.”

Lord Fowler praised Theresa May for limiting the number of people she granted peerages to when she was prime minister and said the elevation of so many peers during Mr Johnson's time in charge ran "smack against the recommendations of the Burns committee."

The Burns committee recommended reducing the size of the Lords to 600, which was overwhelming approved by peers.

On the appointment of Mr Cruddas, a statement on the gov.uk website said: “The House of Lords Appointments Commission was invited by the Prime Minister to undertake vetting of all party political and cross-bench nominations.

“The commission is an independent non-statutory body. It provides advice but appointments are a matter for the prime minister.

“The commission has completed its vetting in respect of all nominees.

“The commission advised the prime minister that it could not support one nominee – Peter Cruddas.

“The prime minister has considered the commission’s advice and wider factors and concluded that, exceptionally, the nomination should proceed.”

In a letter responding to the committee's recommendations, Mr Johnson highlighted how the events around Mr Cruddas happened eight years ago and pointed to his significant charitable work.

He also noted some of the most significant allegations levelled against Mr Cruddas at the time were found to be libellous.

He said he continued to "place great weight" on the committee's opinions.

The Lord Speaker said he would not comment on those appointed – apart from to welcome former archbishop of York John Sentamu – but added: “It may also now be the time to review the role and the powers of the House of Lords Appointments Commission.”

Former Archbishop of York John Sentamu was granted a peerage Credit: PA

Among the 16 new peers appointed, seven were chosen by Mr Johnson, five were chosen by the Labour Leader Sir Keir Starmer and five were nominated to be crossbenchers.

Along with Mr Cruddas, Mr Johnson also appointed QC David Wolfson as a life peer and junior justice minister.

He has publicly backed the prime minister’s stance on controversial legislation.

Others included, Leader of Leeds City Council Cllr Judith Blake CBE and Daniel Hannan a former MEP and prominent Brexiteer.