A Westcountry MP has branded as “disgraceful” the revelation that the Labour Party accepted tens of thousands of pounds from a group with links to animal rights campaigners fighting the badger cull.
Neil Parish, who represents Tiverton and Honiton for the Conservatives, spoke out after Electoral Commission records emerged showing that Political Animal Lobby Limited had given nearly £140,000 to the party since 2001.
The company has strong links to Network for Animals, a pressure group which campaigned against British farmers who supported the badger cull.
The revelation instantly led to accusations that Labour was involved in a “cash for policies” relationship, although the party insists it has done nothing wrong and no donor exerts influence over their policies.
Mr Parish however was not convinced.
He said: “Labour Party policy has always been dictated by its Trade Union donors and now it seems Animal Rights organisations are doing the same.
“Under the last Labour government the number of cattle slaughtered because of Bovine TB rose six-fold from 4,102 in 1998 to 24,000 in 2010.
“During their years in government they refused to follow scientific evidence and carry out a controlled cull of badgers.
“That in opposition the Labour Party is taking funds from animal rights organisations in exchange for policy is utterly disgraceful instead of taking a scientific position on the badger cull.”
According to the Electoral Commission, the most recent donation made by the Political Animal Lobby Limited was £50,000 in May last year.
In August, Mary Creagh, the shadow environment secretary, unveiled a campaign which aimed “to demonstrate the huge opposition to the Tory-led Government's plans to allow farmers to shoot badgers as part of measures to control the spread of bovine tuberculosis in cattle.”
The following month she wrote: “Bovine TB is a terrible disease that needs to be controlled. This cull is not the way to do it.”
In October the Government announced that it was suspending its plans for a badger cull, including one pilot zone in West Somerset, until later this year.
The Labour Party rejected the accusations and said they had opposed the cull since 2008.
A spokesman said: “We are grateful for the support of all our donors, however no donors have undue influence on our policymaking which is done in a transparent way. All donations are declared in line with Electoral Commission rules.”