Calls for Scotland Office minister's peerage to be revoked amid Tories cash-for-honours 'sleaze' scandal

The SNP has called for Scotland Office minister Malcolm Offord's peerage to be revoked in light of the growing controversy over the Tory cash for honours scandal.

Millionaire Tory donor Baron Offord, who has donated almost £150,000 to the Conservative Party, was given a life peerage by Boris Johnson last month, after failing to get elected in the Scottish Parliament election in May.

He was also appointed as a UK Government minister in the Scotland Office – widely seen as a snub to Tory MPs Andrew Bowie and John Lamont.

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Greenock-born financier Baron Offord tried unsuccessfully to become an MSP at the recent Holyrood election, failing to secure the candidacy in Edinburgh Central, then failing to get elected as fifth on the Lothians list.

Lord Offord of Garvel is a Scotland Office minister.Lord Offord of Garvel is a Scotland Office minister.
Lord Offord of Garvel is a Scotland Office minister.

It comes as the Metropolitan Police consider calls for an investigation into the Tory cash for honours scandal and potential criminality, following a formal complaint by SNP MP Pete Wishart.

An investigation by The Sunday Times and Open Democracy found 16 of the main Tory treasurers over the past two decades have been handed peerages – after donating millions of pounds to the party.

The report found that, since 2010, 22 of the party's main financial donors have been given peerages after donating a combined £54 million. In addition, two Labour Party and five Liberal Democrat major donors have also been handed peerages.

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SNP shadow Scottish secretary Mhairi Black said: "The Tory cash for honours scandal is an appalling abuse of the system. The grubby practice of Tory politicians handing peerages to their millionaire party donors is utterly corrupt.

"It must be fully investigated for criminality – and action must be taken to put an end to it, once and for all.

"At a minimum, Baron Offord's peerage and appointment as a UK Government minister is a shameful display of Tory cronyism and sleaze. In light of the growing controversy, it must now be revoked – or the UK Scotland Office will see its credibility sink even further into oblivion.

She added: "People in Scotland do not want to be ruled over by unelected millionaire Tory barons. The Westminster system is a hive of corruption – and it is broken beyond repair. The sooner Scotland can become an independent country and escape Westminster, the better."

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The UK Government has denied any link between the donations and the nominations to sit in the Lords, with environment secretary George Eustice claiming their expertise made them “valuable” members of the Upper Chamber.

He insisted: “They are philanthropists who give huge amounts to charity, who have been very successful in business and, therefore, on those grounds ought to be considered for the Lords.”

A UK Government spokesperson said: “Lord Offord was appointed to the second chamber so he could serve the country as a working peer and as a minister.

"Such an approach has been taken under successive administrations, and ensures the accountability of the UK Government to the UK Parliament. As a Scotland Office minister, Lord Offord is a champion for everything the UK Government is delivering in Scotland.”

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