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Top aide to UK PM resigns

world Updated: Mar 25, 2012 19:38 IST
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In a huge embarrassment for British Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservative Party, a key fundraiser has resigned after he was filmed in a sting operation offering access to the premier in return for donations for up to 250,000 pounds.

Peter Cruddas, co-treasurer of the Conservative Party initially says in the footage that it was not possible to buy access to the prime minister. But he then goes on to discuss what access different size donations would get, according to the sting operation carried out by The Sunday Times.

In the footage, Cruddas said more money would allow more access, including to Chancellor George Osborne. "You will be able to ask him [Cameron] practically any question you want," the report quoted him as saying.

"Two hundred grand to 250 is premier league... what you would get is, when we talk about your donations the first thing we want to do is get you at the Cameron/Osborne dinners," it said.

According to the report he said that the meetings were good for picking up "a lot of information", and that he would ensure suggestions were fed back to 10, Downing Street.

In a resignation statement released on Saturday night, Cruddas said he deeply regretted the repercussions of his "bluster" during the recorded conversations, The Observer reported.

"Clearly there is no question of donors being able to influence policy or gain undue access to politicians. Specifically, it was categorically not the case that I could offer, or that David Cameron would consider, any access as a result of a donation. Similarly, I have never knowingly even met anyone from the Number 10 policy unit," the statement said.

Cameron on his part has slammed Cruddas. Cameron has said that the claim was "completely unacceptable"

"It's quite right that Peter Cruddas has resigned. I will make sure there is a proper party inquiry to make sure this can't happen again", the BBC quoted him as saying.

The Conservative Party insists no donations were received as a result of the official's claims who has been in the position for only three weeks.

In the last 18 months there have been three major resignations: the chief secretary to the treasury, David Laws, energy secretary Chris Huhne and defence secretary Liam Fox.