Tories deny accounts crisis

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Reports in the national press said the party had dipped into the red by nearly £9m, but the party claims it is in a healthy financial position.

Party chairman Theresa May MP said: ‘It is grossly inaccurate to say the Conservative Party is almost £9m in the red. The Conservative Party is in a healthy financial position. The accounts are due to be signed off in the next few weeks and I have every confidence they will be.’

Shadow chancellor Michael Howard backed the party chairman saying the accounts were due to be approved shortly.

BDO said it had officially taken over from PricewaterhouseCoopers at the beginning of this year as auditor but the changeover was not publicised. The reporting period used by the Conservatives is to the year ending in March.

The accounts of political parties are notoriously fickle, often sailing close to the wind and relying on generous benefactors for funds to help maintain their balance sheets. Donors are particularly difficult to come in mid-term for opposition parties who would naturally pick up their fund raising activities closer to an election.

The last set of accounts for the year to March 2002 show a deficit of £1.64m.

According to The Times donations had collapsed with the party treasurer, Sir Stanley Kalms contributing less than his predecessor, Lord Ashcroft. He is understood to have contributed as much as £1m a year when the party was led by William Hague.

Speculation has mounted that a change in the treasuer’s post is imminent. Observers believe that the deputy treasurer, George Magan, a banker, could be about to take over the top job.

Theresa May denied reports that PwC had already told party officials there was not enough income to guarantee its viability. She emphasised that PwC was no longer the auditor of the party.

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