Boris Johnson has come under fresh scrutiny over claims he pushed for a Russian-born crony to get a peerage despite security concerns.
The Prime Minister said it was “simply incorrect” and would “obviously be extraordinary” if he had intervened to secure a gong for Lord Lebedev.
But the claims reignited the row over the numbers of allies who have received gongs from the PM.
Labor have demanded a “post-appointment assessment” to examine the contributions of peers the Prime Minister places in the Lords.
Here we look at some of allies, cronies and Tory donors who have been handed top gongs.
The Prime Minister made Evgeny Lebedev, the media mogul and son of billionaire ex-KGB agent Alexander, Lord Lebedev of Siberia at the height of Covid in 2020.
The ex-London major had for years been a guest at parties hosted by the socialite who owns the Evening Standard.
As Foreign Secretary Mr Johnson declared an “overnight stay” with Evgeny Lebedev on 28 April 2018.
Reports later claimed the future Prime Minister had gone to Palazzo Terranova in Perugia for a “weekend-long party” – and was spotted disheveled and without his security detail at San Francesco d’Assisi airport the next day.
Claims emerged this week that intelligence officials had raised concerns about the gong – leading the House of Lords Appointments Commission (HOLAC) to advise against it.
But a source told the Sunday Times Boris Johnson then personally intervened – meeting Lebedev in person while he was dithering over a lockdown – and that “particular quite damning bit of advice” was later withdrawn.
Mr Johnson has insisted it is “simply incorrect” that he personally or directly asked for the advice to be reversed.
Lord Lebedev has not spoken in the Lords since his maiden speech, and Insider revealed he had only attended the Lords three times – narrowly missing the six-month absence that triggers an automatic suspension.
On Friday, Lord Lebedev, who holds British citizenship, released a statement, saying he was “not some agent of Russia”.
The peer acknowledged that his father was “a long time ago” a KGB officer but denied being “a security risk to this country”
On just one day two years ago, Boris Johnson put his former boss, a billionaire Tory donor, a former top aide and a Brexiteer cricketer in the House of Lords for life (more on those below).
But the most striking name in his peers’ list of 31 July 2020 was that of Jo Johnson – his own brother.
The long-awaited list was snuck out on a hot Friday afternoon, hours after an important Covid announcement.
Its huge size was branded a “mockery of democracy” and slammed by the Lords’ own Speaker.
Jo Johnson stood down as an MP at the 2019 election and resigned as a minister, saying he was “torn between family loyalty and the national interest” over his brother’s hardline approach to Brexit.
The billionaire, who has donated large sums to the Conservative Party, was handed a knighthood in the 2022 New Year Honours.
Hedge fund boss David Harding was knighted for “services to philanthropy.” The 60-year-old’s gifts to science and mathematics programs include £100million to Cambridge University in 2019 – the largest ever single donation by a Brit to a UK university.
However, he is also a major donor to the Conservative Party, having pumped more than £1.5million into the Tory war chest since 2006.
Sir David, who founded investment management firm Winton in 1997, donated more than £1m to pro-Remain groups in the EU referendum. In 2018 he was named as a member of the Tory Leader’s Group, offering him the chance to dine with ministers including then-PM Theresa May.
But he has also generously helped the party under Brexiteer Boris Johnson, donating almost £500,000 to the Tories since the PM came to power. His gifts from him include a single £200,000 donation a few weeks before the 2019 election.
Tory Zac Goldsmith lost his seat in the 2019 election after being trounced by the Liberal Democrats in Richmond Park.
But he was swiftly handed a life peerage by Boris Johnson so he could serve as Environment Minister in the Lords.
The Tory, son of billionaire businessman James Goldsmith, ran in the 2016 London Mayoral election but he was denounced for trying to suggest his rival Labor Sadiq Khan had links to extremists.
A long-time ally of the PM’s wife Carrie Johnson, Mr Goldsmith made headlines last year for lending the couple his luxury Marbella villa for a sunshine break.
The billionaire former treasurer of the Conservative Party was among the 19 receiving a Tory peerage in July 2020.
His firm IPGL Ltd has donated more than £1m to the Tories since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister.
He was another member of the Tories’ elite ‘Leaders’ Group’, listed as a dinner attendee in early 2017 with either Boris Johnson, Philip Hammond or Theresa May, or all three.
The City grandee slammed Theresa May in 2018 for “letting herself down” in her relationship with business, saying the party had been “foolish on occasion to adopt some of the language of the socialists”.
He later poured money into target seats ahead of the 2019 election landslide.
Now Lord Moylan, Daniel Moylan was aviation advisor to Mr Johnson as London Mayor, when he championed a failed plan to build a Thames estuary airport nicknamed “Boris Island”.
The ex-merchant banker and diplomat was ennobled in 2020 alongside several others from the PM’s City Hall days.
He recently went on a bizarre Twitter rant, describing Yorkshire as a county of “leftist whingers”.
His outburst came after the Yorkshire Post reported the government’s “levelling up” plans were failing to deliver.
Posting the front page of the paper’s weekend edition, the former deputy leader of Kensington and Chelsea Council said: “I’m going to Yorkshire for a short break next week.
“Everything I’ve read recently in @yorkshirepost makes me fear I’m going to find it transformed into a county of leftist whingers begging for handouts.
“Let’s hope that’s not the case.”
Among those given a peerage in summer 2020 by Boris Johnson was his former boss.
Charles Moore, previously said his role at the Daily Telegraph was a “nightmare” because the future PM was always “terribly late with his copy.”
In November 2021 he was at a dinner in London to which the Prime Minister rushed back in a jet from the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow.
Lord Moore has described himself of a climate change skeptic and criticized the “repressive hostility from policy elites” in an article for the Telegraph in October.
At around the same time, Lord Moore wrote a piece complaining about the “hounding” of Tory MP Owen Paterson, who found an inquiry had breached standards rules.
A short time after dinner, Boris Johnson tried to change Commons rules to save Mr Paterson – leading to outrage and weeks of sleaze headlines.
Bloomberg via Getty Images)
Another long-time City Hall ally, Eddie Lister was handed a peerage by Boris Johnson in autumn 2020.
The 72-year-old led Tory Wandsworth Council for nearly 20 years and served as an adviser to Mr Johnson when he was London Mayor.
He was brought into No10 when Mr Johnson became PM in July 2019 and became acting chief of staff after the dramatic departure of Dominic Cummings in November 2020. Lord Udny-Lister left Government in April 2021.
He apologized last year for approving a £187million taxpayer-backed loan to a big property developer he was being paid to advise.
AFP via Getty Images)
Top Conservative Geoffrey Cox – one of Parliament’s biggest earners outside Westminster – was made a Sir in New Year Honors under Boris Johnson.
Sir Geoffrey gave up his work as a top-earning QC on being appointed to Cabinet in 2018 – which had previously made him Westminster’s highest paid MP.
He vehemently defended Boris Johnson in the Brexit wars and his attacks on the “dead parliament” he inherited from Theresa May.
But he later ran into controversy in 2019 when he advised Boris Johnson’s government that it was legal to prorogue Parliament – which was later found to be unlawful by the Supreme Court.
Sir Geoffrey made headlines in 2015 when it emerged he had tried to claim 49p for milk before his demand was knocked back by the Parliamentary expenses watchdog.
The same year he stood down as the chair of Westminster’s cross-party standards committee, after failing to declare more than £400,000 in outside earnings.
He was later ordered to apologize in the Commons for failing to declare the sum within the 28-day time period.
Last year he was embroiled in a second jobs row over his role advising the government of the British Virgin Islands.
The multi-millionaire property developer and Tory donor who hosted David Cameron’s 50th birthday party was knighted in autumn 2020.
He entertained the former Prime Minister at Sarsden House, a listed 17th-Century Oxfordshire mansion set on 459 acres which Sir Tony bought for £26million in 2006.
The entrepreneur is said to be part of the so-called “Chipping Norton set” centered around the pretty Cotswolds town in the former Tory leader’s old Oxfordshire constituency.
The two men reportedly came to know one another when Mr Cameron became the local MP and since 2007 Mr Gallagher has donated more than £300,000 to the Conservatives.
In 2020, Boris Johnson registered a gift from Mr Gallagher of a “sterling silver envelope” worth £780 following the birth of his son Wilfred.
Downing Street said later that the present had been entered on the parliamentary register in error and was being removed as the PM had opted to return it.
AFP via Getty Images)
The former Brexit Party MEP was handed a seat in the Lords in 2020.
Once a member of the Revolutionary Communist Party, she was criticized for the group’s refusal to condemn the 1993 IRA bombings in Warrington.
In 2015 she tweeted in praise of the Liberal Democrats for not taking up peerages – only five years before she joined the House of Lords.
Steve Bell/Getty Images)
The former England cricketer was given a peerage by Boris Johnson as he marked his first anniversary in No 10.
Lord Botham was reportedly rewarded for his support for Brexit among a list of Eurosceptic loyalists honored by the PM.
He was a high-profile figure pushing for Brexit, branding the EU “corrupt” and a “racket” and saying in 2016: “Cricket is a game where you achieve the greatest success when you are confident in your own ability to go out and stand proud. Britain has that spirit.”
He was named as the UK’s trade envoy to Australia last year.