A controversial former Tory treasurer has been nominated for a peerage by Boris Johnson despite being caught up in a ‘cash for access’ row.
Peter Cruddas is said to be on a list of more than a dozen people proposed by the PM in the dissolution honours.
Former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson is also set for a seat in the House of Lords as are ex-chancellors Kenneth Clarke and Philip Hammond – a Brexit rebel whose nomination will anger many MPs.
Mr Cruddas quit as treasurer in 2012 after nine months following an undercover newspaper investigation. He was apparently recorded offering access to figures such as David Cameron and George Osborne in return for ‘premier league’ donations of over £200,000.
The City tycoon denied wrongdoing and claimed his comments were just ‘bluster’.
He lost part of a libel action over the issue on appeal, although judges backed him over a separate allegation that he had countenanced breaches of electoral law surrounding foreign donors, and ultimately won £50,000 damages on this point.
Mr Cruddas, who is worth a reported £860million, is a long time donor who has given the party more than £3.5million.
He was also a co-founder of the Vote Leave campaign, led by Mr Johnson and Michael Gove, and provided £1.5million.
Last year he backed Mr Johnson’s leadership, saying: ‘We need a Brexiteer as our next PM.’
Allies point out he is also a major philanthropist who backs the Duke of Edinburgh Award and Royal Ballet and has pledged to give away £100million to help kids from tough backgrounds.
His nomination for a peerage is said to have been cleared by the Cabinet Office. But it still has to be approved by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.
The committee will also have to vet controversial nominations from Jeremy Corbyn including his aide Karie Murphy and former Commons Speaker John Bercow, who both face bullying allegations.
Sources said the clearance process could take weeks. Several controversial figures, including Tory donors, have been refused peerages in the past.
Mr Johnson also faced disquiet over the decision to nominate Mr Hammond for a peerage.
Tory sources last night said he had been put forward after agreeing a deal with Conservative whips to ‘go quietly’ at the election.
One Tory MP described the honour as a ‘reward for failure’.
Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith said Eurosceptics would ‘raise an eyebrow’ at the nomination of a chancellor who ‘played such a prominent role in frustrating Brexit.
At the time of his suspension from the parliamentary party in September, Mr Hammond promised No10 the ‘fight of a lifetime’ to remain a Tory member and suggested he was ready to launch legal action against the party.
But when the election arrived in December Mr Hammond stood down without a fight, unlike fellow rebels such as David Gauke, Dominic Grieve and Anne Milton who fought their seats as independents.
A senior Tory source acknowledged that the peerage nomination for Mr Hammond would anger many Brexiteers.
But they said it was the result of a deal with the Conservative chief whip Mark Spencer in which the he would go without causing problems. The source said: ‘Not everyone is happy about it, but a deal is a deal.’ Neither Mr Hammond nor Mr Clarke, who was also suspended by the Tories last year, will have the whip withdrawn.
Instead they will sit as independent Crossbench peers.
Mr Hammond was asked about the allegation that he had cut a deal with Tory whips last night, but did not respond.
Mr Johnson has also nominated former Labour MPs Ian Austin and John Woodcock for peerages.
Both men quit Labour with angry blasts against Mr Corbyn and urged voters to back the Conservatives at the election in order to keep the Labour leader out of No10.
Former foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt last night welcomed the decision to honour Mr Clarke, saying: ‘Many of us disagreed with him on Europe, but his wisdom and experience will make parliament a better place.’