Questions raised over donation

Questions have been raised over a £10,000 donation made to Bury St Edmunds MP David Ruffley’s Conservative constituency association from the wife of a former care home company boss.

The donation was made in 2009 by Caroline Nash - wife of John Nash, who at the time was chairman of Care UK - and is recorded on the House of Commons Register of Members’ Financial Interests.

Suffolk’s Green Party now want to know how the Conservative run county council decided to transfer ownership of its 16 care homes to the company last year.

However, the Suffolk Conservative Group and the county council have denied any connection between the donation and decision.

Bury Cllr Mark Ereira-Guyer, leader of the Green and Independent Group, has called on the council’s leader Mark Bee to explain the process in selecting Care UK.

A spokesman for Suffolk County Council said the transfer of its homes to Care UK was a ‘thorough, rigorous and transparent process’ supported by independent consultants KPMG. He added: “Councillors had an opportunity to scrutinise the decision making process and a comprehensive public consultation was carried out. Final decisions were taken by cabinet members, in public, based on professional advice to the council. It had nothing whatsoever to do with donations to any political parties.”

Cllr Bee, who is also leader of the Conservative Group, said donations made to Conservative constituency associations are ‘fully transparent’.

He added: “At no point would such a donation have had the slightest connection with the work of county councillors or decisions being made at the county council.

“The decision to appoint Care UK was conducted extremely transparently and, as befitting such an important issue, done with the utmost care and consideration.”

When asked for a comment, Mr Ruffley directed the Bury Free Press to the county council’s statement.