£25k to meet Nick Clegg

LABOUR has labelled the Liberal Democrats ‘hypocrites’ for charging influential businesspeople £25,000 to meet Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg.

The party is offering corporate lobbyists the chance to join its ‘Leaders’ Forum’ at its party conference in Birmingham next month.

Labour MP Andrew Smith said the money-spinner “smacks of the worst kind of hypocritical opportunism”.

Critics say charging cash for access undermines the Deputy PM’s pre-election pledge to tighten up lobbying rules.

The party is setting up three new groups, including the elite Leaders’ Forum which can be attended by just 50 wealthy individuals, in a bid to raise more than £1 million.

In an invitation Mr Clegg said: “You don’t have to be a Liberal Democrat to take part. In today’s politics, all are welcome.”

The Lib Dems have defended the scheme, claiming it is “a forum for discussion in various sectors and industries from around the world. The party has never relied on corporate or union donations.”