Nick Clegg denies £12m ‘smear’

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Nick Clegg’s office has denied the Deputy Prime Minister was involved in any wrongdoing, amid claims that his aides intervened to help secure £12 million of public money for a charity linked to his wife.

Leaked e-mails show that Matt Sanders, a member of the Liberal Democrat leader’s team, asked for the cash to go to Booktrust, instead of competing with other charities, according to a Sunday newspaper.

In a message to education officials, Mr Sanders referred to the fact that Mr Clegg’s wife Miriam had hosted a function for the charity just weeks earlier, the newspaper said.

Other e-mails reportedly show that senior civil servants expressed concern at the way the bidding process was apparently manipulated in Booktrust’s favour.

“There was unease at the fact that Miriam’s name came up,” a Whitehall source told the Mail on Sunday.

A spokesman for Mr Clegg dismissed the claims as “smears and innuendo” and said the cash decision rested with Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove.