Harry's Charity Saved from Cash Crisis by Tory Donor Ashcroft

The Evening Standard (London, England), March 16, 2009 | Go to article overview
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Harry's Charity Saved from Cash Crisis by Tory Donor Ashcroft


Byline: ELLEN WIDDUP

PRINCE HARRY'S charity to help starving children in Africa has been bailed out by a [pounds sterling]250,000 donation from one of the Conservative Party's richest benefactors.

Lord Ashcroft, a billionaire businessman and deputy chairman of the Conservative party, who is reviled on Labour Party benches as the mastermind of the Tories' campaign to take marginal seats, stepped forward with the cash after trustees of Sentebale said the organisation was facing financial crisis.

Lord Ashcroft is currently under investigation by the Electoral Commission over the [pounds sterling]5 million he has donated to the Conservatives through his company Bearwood Corporate Services.

His spokesman said the peer was moved to support Sentebale -- founded in 2006 in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales -- after hearing of its work in Lesotho, a landlocked and impoverished kingdom in the middle of South Africa.

The spokesman said: "Lord Ashcroft is supportive of any initiative which brings real benefit to Africa." By tradition the royal family avoids involvement with overtly party political figures but a senior source close to the trustees of Sentebale said a serious cash shortage had forced them to look for immediate help.

"We got closer to running down our resources than we would have liked," the source said. "We have brought in some new donors." When the charity's first accounts were published in March 2008, it was revealed that despite raising more than [pounds sterling]1 million in the first 18 months of its operation, just [pounds sterling]84,000 was handed over to projects in Lesotho.

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