I've blogged a lot previously about the many links that exist between the asset manager Fidelity and the Conservative Party. I've just discovered a new one that provides a bit more insight into how significant the relationship is.
The Leader's Group is one of the Tories' donor clubs. In fact, according to their own blurb, this is the "premier" supporters group:
Annual membership: £50,000 Chairman: Howard Leigh
The Leader’s Group is the premier supporter Group of the Conservative Party. Members are invited to join David Cameron and other senior figures from the Conservative Party at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and important campaign launches.
It's not cheap either, at £50,000 for an annual membership. Helpfully the Tories provide some data on who meets who in this club, and look who turns up in their disclosure for Q4 2013:
FIL Holdings (UK) Ltd (represented by Barry Bateman, Director )
I had vaguely heard of Barry Batemen so I had a google around, and it turns out he's the vice-chairman of the UK business. This is a very senior position in the firm.
So in addition to funding the Conservative Party, employing a Conservative MP, sponsoring meetings of the Conservative Party's business liaison organisation and voting in favour of PLCs making political donations to the Conservative Party, Fidelity had one of its most senior UK people at an event organised by the Conservative Party's "premier supporter group".