Rishi Sunak faces criticism over knighthood to Tory donor who gave party £5m

The timing of Mohamed Mansour's knighthood has risen a few eyebrows as Rishi Sunak is dragged into a cronyism row, ITV News Westminster Editor David Wood explains

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is under fire for recommending a knighthood for a top Tory backer who gave the Conservative Party £5 million in 2023.

Businessman Mohamed Mansour, who is also a senior treasurer at the party, was knighted for business, charity and political service.

Four Conservative MPs were also given gongs in a surprise honours list slipped out while Parliament was in recess and on the eve of the Easter bank holiday weekend.

Mr Sunak is facing criticism over his recommendations to the King, with Labour frontbencher Anneliese Dodds saying the honours system should be used as a means of rewarding people who have made a “contribution to our public life”.

“It shouldn’t be an automatic pass through from somebody who’s made a huge donation to a political party then being rewarded in that manner," she told Sky News.

Labour Party chair Anneliese Dodds says donations should not be an 'automatic pass' to knighthood. Credit: PA

However, Ms Dodds did not rule out Labour donors receiving honours should Sir Keir Starmer's party win the general election later this year.

Senior No 10 sources pointed to Sir Mohamed’s charitable work and record of public service, including support for The Prince’s Foundation – now The King’s Foundation – and a major contributor to St Paul’s Cathedral’s Remember Me project, which raised money for a physical memorial to those who died of Covid-19 in the UK. However, Ms Dodds said the public would “make their own minds up” on whether that was the true reason behind his knighthood.Upon hearing the announcement on Friday, she said: “This is either the arrogant act of an entitled man who’s stopped caring what the public thinks, or the demob-happy self-indulgence of someone who doesn’t expect to be prime minister much longer.

“Either way, it shows a blatant disrespect for the office he should feel privileged to hold.”

Ms Dodds says Labour has learned from the cash-for-honours controversy under Tony Blair, who was questioned three times as part of a police probe into the alleged sale of peerages in 2006. The timing of the announcement has raised eyebrows – although sources said it was linked to the need to make appointments to the Privy Council, including the new First Minister of Wales Vaughan Gething. Other recipients of honours included Philip Davies – whose wife is the government’s “common sense” minister Esther McVey – who has been knighted for public and parliamentary service. Former sports minister Tracey Crouch, who led a review of football governance in the wake of proposals for a breakaway European Super League, was given a damehood for public and parliamentary service. Farming minister Mark Spencer was given a knighthood, while Treasury Select Committee chairwoman Harriett Baldwin became a dame. Democratic Unionist Party MP Gregor Campbell was made a CBE.

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