The climate sceptic party Reform UK accepted £10,000 from a former Conservative Party donor who has been accused by more than a dozen women of sexual misconduct, DeSmog can reveal.
The donation was made last August by Crispin Odey, a British hedge fund manager whose company, Odey Asset Management, has announced that it will close after 13 women accused him of harassment or abuse.
The allegations were revealed by the Financial Times in June, two months before Reform accepted Odey’s donation, while a further six women came forward with similar claims in July. Odey denies the allegations, claiming that the reports are a “rehash of an old article and none of the allegations have been stood up in a courtroom or an investigation.”
The donation was originally registered as having been given by the Independent Investment Management Initiative (IIMI), a pressure group which works “to shape a regulatory environment” and “facilitate commercial opportunities” for the specialist investment firms that make up its members.
The group is currently chaired by Sebastian Stewart, a partner at Somerset Capital Management, the investment firm co-founded by Jacob Rees-Mogg in 2007.
The IIMI has since denied any involvement in the donation. The Electoral Commission told DeSmog that the original information provided by Reform was “inaccurate”, and that it “will consider” whether to take enforcement action.
The entry was only changed on the Electoral Commission website after enquiries from DeSmog and the Daily Mirror.
Reform campaigns to “scrap” the UK’s goal to reach net zero emissions by 2050 and received £135,000 last year from climate science deniers and fossil fuel interests. Its leader Richard Tice has claimed that “CO2 isn’t poison; it’s plant food”. Its honorary president and controlling shareholder Nigel Farage has also advocated for a referendum on net zero.
The party has been rising in the polls in recent months and has ruled out a deal with the Conservatives, vowing to run in every seat in this year’s general election. It has reportedly set up a unit to handle defections from Conservative MPs and councillors.
Odey donated more than £350,000 to the Conservative Party between 2007 and 2019, while also donating over £870,000 to pro-Brexit groups. He was a director at the IIMI from 2010 to 2012.
Former Liberal Democrat MP Tom Brake, director of campaign group Unlock Democracy, told DeSmog the donation was “confusing” and said that it should be inspected further by the Electoral Commission.
“The to-ing and fro-ing on this donation is something the Electoral Commission may want to review,” he said. “There is a simple lesson here: we need a much simpler and faster regime for registering donations.”
An Electoral Commission spokesperson said: “We published the donation details on our register as originally reported to us by the party. The entry was amended on our database when the party informed us that it had provided inaccurate donor information. We will consider the inaccurate reporting in line with our Enforcement Policy.”
A spokesperson from the IIMI said: “The IIMI has never made a donation to Reform UK. This has been confirmed unequivocally by Reform UK. The IIMI is a not-for-profit organisation, has never made any political donations, nor does it intend to do so. The IIMI has worked with thousands of individuals at member firms since its establishment in 2010. These individuals are entitled to make personal donations to any causes as they wish.”
Reform UK and Odey were approached for comment.