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Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt are among those potentially affected


The business dealings of Cabinet ministers and donors who pumped £27m into the Tory party could be wiped from official records under plans being considered by a Government agency.

Chancellor Philip Hammond, Home Secretary Amber Rudd and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt are among ministers whose former business interests could be obscured from public view.

Donors who bolstered Tory coffers, including one promised a Lords seat in David Cameron’s tainted resignation honours list, could also see their records wiped.

The move threatens to cut off a key source of information on public figures’ past, provoking concern that it may mean conflicts of interest go undiscovered.

The Government said a consultation would be held before any decision is taken, but Labour demanded the move be blocked.

Deputy leader Tom Watson said: “The proposals currently under consideration by Companies House are extremely worrying and would be a backwards step.

“If the Tory Government was truly committed to transparency and openness then it would not allow this move – which would effectively wipe from public view the records of 2.5 million dissolved companies and the people associated with them – to go ahead.

“It’s now up to [Prime Minister] Theresa May to ensure that this proposal will never see the light of day.”

Companies House keeps a publicly accessible database on every UK firm, with details of accounts, directors and shareholders.

It has mooted plans to cut the time that details of dissolved companies are kept from 20 years to just six, leading to the potential loss of 2.5 million records. Police, journalists and bank compliance teams all make use of the data.

If implemented, the plans would see records relating to 24 current ministers’ involvement with dissolved companies wiped or soon wiped, including Mr Hammond’s links to real estate firms.

Ms Rudd’s connection to a management consultancy dissolved in 2010 would be wiped. Mr Hunt’s links to manufacturing and publishing firms would also soon be unavailable for public viewing.

Boris Johnson’s involvement in the now dissolved London Climate Change Agency, connected to his time as Mayor of London, would also be wiped.

Records relating to former Barings banker Andrew Fraser, who donated £2.5m to the party during Mr Cameron’s premiership, would also be wiped.

There was outrage earlier this month when political opponents attacked Mr Cameron’s resignation honours list, claiming the former Prime Minister had handed rewards to friends and political connections including Mr Fraser.

Other donors who could have records cleared include Michael Spencer, who gave £5m to the party, and Lord Michael Farmer, who donated about £8.5m.

A Government spokesman said: “Companies House, like all public bodies, regularly review their data handling practices to ensure they comply with data protection law.

“The Government is committed to greater transparency and improving corporate responsibility. Nothing will be done until the new Government carefully considers its options before deciding on the appropriate way forward.”

Source: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/conservatives-tories-business-dealings-party-donors-wiped-from-records-a7192411.html