A controversial oil executive who donated £500,000 to the Better Together campaign is among key allies of David Cameron recommended for honours, according to a leaked list seen by the Sunday Times.
Ian Taylor, the chief executive of Vitol, is in line for a knighthood, and joins prominent backers of the Remain campaign, personal aides to the former prime minister, and Conservative donors on the resignation honours list, according to reports.
The alleged leak has prompted accusations of cronyism and renewed calls for reform of the honours system.
Politicians set to receive knighthoods include Philip Hammond, David Lidington, Patrick McLoughlin and Michael Fallon, while George Osborne has been recommended to join the Companions of Honour – a group which is limited to 65 members at any one time. Current members include Sir John Major, Dame Judi Dench, Peter Higgs, Professor Stephen Hawking and Lord Coe.
Andrew Cook, who donated £250,000 to the Remain campaign, could also be set for a knighthood. Will Straw, who led the Stronger In campaign, has been recommended for a CBE. The list of 48 names reportedly includes Samantha Cameron’s stylist and two of Mr Cameron’s official drivers. Two long-standing advisers to the former prime minister, Gaby Bertin and Liz Sugg, are expected to get peerages, though House of Lords appointments are handled separately.
During the Scottish independence referendum campaign, Better Together faced calls to return Mr Taylor’s donation over Vitol’s past activities. The company was fined in 2007 by a US court over payments to the Iraqi national oil company during Saddam Hussein’s reign, which were found to be outside the UN’s oil for food programme. It is also alleged that Vitol paid $1 million to Serbian paramilitary leader Arkan as part of another deal. The company denies it acted illegally.
Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson said: “I hope Theresa May is not going stake her reputation on David Cameron’s old boys network. That Mr Cameron proposes to reward his friends network on such a huge scale will not only bring the honours system into disrepute, it will undermine the reputation of Theresa May.
“It’s cronyism, pure and simple and proof the Tories will always put their own interests before those of the country.”