Boris Johnson accused of 'rank hypocrisy' after 2006 Telegraph column on cronyism resurfaces

Boris Johnson in Westminster

Boris Johnson in Westminster - Credit: PA

A column by Boris Johnson accusing Labour of the "putrefaction of the honours system" has re-emerged hours after he ennobled a former Tory donor against the advice of the peerage watchdog.

Peter Cruddas was one of 16 new peers appointed by Downing Street on Monday in an announcement that was slipped out after MPs had returned home for Christmas.

The move comes after the Lords appointment committee advised against it due to Cruddas' involvement in the "cash-for-access" scandal.

Cruddas stepped down from his role as Tory Party treasurer in March 2012 after he was accused of offering access to then prime minister David Cameron and chancellor George Osborne in exchange for cash donations. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Expressing his reasoning behind the appointment, Johnson told the committee Cruddas had become "on of this country's most successful business figures" whose experience would be a "hugely valuable contribution" to the House of Lords.

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"I would like to reassure you and your colleagues that I see this case as a clear and rare exception," Johnson wrote.

This is a clear break from the prime minister's own advice he gave in a 2006 column in the Telegraph.

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In it, Johnson - then a columnist for the paper - accused Labour of "putrefying" the peerage system after reports emerged for political donors being offered peerages for donations.

Johnson writes: "What an amazing spectacle we must present to the world outside. Here is the prime minister's chief financial fixer being hauled in for questioning about a suspected crime that is quintessentially British... The sale of peerages.

"I would not dream of pretending that the matter is unimportant, since the swoop on Levy perfectly illustrates the decay of the government and the putrefaction of the honours system."

He continued: "As far as I am concerned, the whole lot of them deserve to have their collars felt. If cops decide to launch dawn raids on all the other arch-toadies of the regime, they will find many of us prepared to hold their coats.

"Arrest Alastair Campbell... Let's nick them all, sarge!"

Johnson's own government has come under heavy criticism over appointments. 

Last week, Johnson appointed long-time friend Evgeny Lebedev to House of Lords while the awarding of contracts to Tory acquaintances has sparked rows of cronyism. 

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Taking to Twitter, Andy B posted: "As always it seems these days, rank hypocrisy is the name of the games."

Former Cheshire councillor Brian Silvester tweeted: "In 2006 #Boris was against sale of peerages when Labour did it. In 2020 under #Boris, sale of peerages goes on unabated. How can it be right for party donors to be rewarded with a place in our parliament for life? This needs to end immediately."

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