This was previously published in another place but now one of those involved has made to Parliament, the issue is still current and I badly need to post something as this blog has been slumbering tooooo long. More up to date stories, views and comments to come, honestly.
The Times published this story during the general election campaign which generated roughly zip follow-up.
The Conservative Party has accepted donations from a wealthy British family that is accused of profiting from the destruction of one of the few remaining habitats of the orang-utan.
Although the party has a policy of protecting orang-utans, it has continued to accept donations despite evidence of the family’s links to a company involved in the destruction.
Sir Henry Keswick, chairman of the trading house Jardine Matheson, has donated £213,000 to the Conservatives in the past eight years.
His wife, Tessa, president of the Devizes Tory association, donated £32,500 last year. Simon Keswick, a director of Jardine, has donated £99,500 to the party since 2002.
Sir Chippendale “Chips” Keswick, a banker and former director of the Bank of England, donated £34,750.
You can read the full story here.
Mark Fletcher, the Green Party candidate for Devizes, said at the time (Note: Perry was subsequently elected):
"Evidence is building that local Tory leaflets may have been paid for by rainforest destruction.
The true blue constituency of Devizes is raising some very alarming questions, as reported in The Times yesterday.
It seems possible that Conservative leaflets were paid for in part with profit from the destruction of the rainforest in Sumatra, and the possible deaths of Orangutans. The Conservative Association in Devizes President is Tessa Keswick, former Tory policy advisor, and her husband is Sir Henry Keswick, boss of massive Bermuda and Hong Kong based multinational family firm Jardine Matheson. The Keswicks give huge donations to Tory Central Office, and to the Devizes Tories. Lady Keswick is described by local Tories as their chief fundraiser in Devizes, and on the selection committee that chose Claire Parry, a ‘Dave babe’, and ex-banker.
The Keswicks are accused of taking large profits from the burning of an area of rainforest UNESCO has highlighted as key to the survival of the Sumatran Orangutan. For three years Greenpeace, Oxfam and many others have fought the Keswick's family of firms, and it appeared in the national press in 2009 after Sir Henry was given a knighthood. The Tories are accused of accepting this money, and even now, facing difficult questions, are refusing to hand any back.
I wanted to go through the evidence with Devizes candidate Claire Parry in private, but she brushed me aside. Icould have shown her photographs of Orangutan nests taken in 2007, in an area now cleared, according to the latest maps and scientists in Indonesia. I could have shown her satellite images of burning, when burning is against Indonesian law. I could have shared what I have been told about investigations into AAL by the Indonesian Government, and by GES-invest, and by PanEco, Wetlands International, Flora and Fauna International, Oxfam, Greenpeace, and many others.
I could have drawn her attention to a speech by Gorge Osborne promising to help save the rainforest, and the evidence that they could, and should, have known where the donations were coming from.
We could have talked about how the profit from Astra Agro Lestari reaches the parent company, Jardine Matheson, and so reaches the Keswicks, and the amounts they give to the Tory party. We could have talked about the power Tessa Keswick has in fundraising, and policy, and in the selection of candidates. I could have shown her that the Keswicks most likely knew of the accusations.
We could have sat down and discussed a way, even now, to save a very important bit of rainforest. But she wasn’t interested. This is an issue her prospective constituents are raising, and I think she would have been very shocked by the evidence. I think her potential voters would be appalled."
If you would like to raise the same concerns as Mark then you could
write to Claire Perry c/o Devizes Constituency Conservative Association,
116 High Street, Marlborough, Wiltshire SN8 1LZ or email
firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Alternatively you could write to Sir Henry Keswick, Matheson & Co. Ltd, 3 Lombard Street, London, EC3V 9AQ. They are rather opaque when it comes to contacting them so a letter is probably more reliable, but you might also wish to email firstname.lastname@example.org