V&A at centre of row over auction of private tour as prize at Tory fundraising event

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The V&A has been urged to analyse wherefore the depository auctioned a backstage circuit arsenic a prize astatine a Conservative fundraising meal erstwhile 1 of its trustees is simply a Tory enactment chair.

In a missive to the commissioner connected nationalist appointments, Labour’s shadiness civilization secretary, Lucy Powell, said the auction was a wide breach of the codification of behaviour for trustees of nationalist bodies.

Ben Elliot, a V&A trustee, is co-chair of the Conservative enactment and has faced repeated questioning implicit the usage of his concierge firm, Quintessentially, and services it has provided to Russian oligarchs.

The circuit was auctioned astatine the outpouring luncheon enactment fundraiser by the Foreign Office curate James Cleverly, including the museum’s chair, Nicholas Coleridge, showing the winning Tory donor “his 10 favourite items” successful the museum’s collection, according to the Mail connected Sunday.

In the missive copied to the V&A director, Tristram Hunt, and the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport imperishable secretary, Powell said the connection “raises caller questions astir the conflicts of involvement that seems to beryllium truthful communal with this Conservative authorities and nationalist bodies”.

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In the codification of behaviour for committee members of nationalist bodies, it says: “In your nationalist role, you should be, and beryllium seen to be, politically impartial. You should not inhabit a paid enactment governmental station oregon clasp a peculiarly delicate oregon high-profile relation successful a governmental party. You should abstain from each arguable governmental activity.”

It continues: “You indispensable not use, oregon effort to use, the accidental of nationalist work to beforehand your idiosyncratic interests oregon those of immoderate connected person, firm, concern oregon different organisation.”

Powell said the revelations proved the Conservatives were “still selling disconnected governmental entree and perks to Tory donors alternatively of coming up with a program to tackle the outgo of surviving crisis”.

In a statement, the V&A said: “The V&A understands that a abbreviated circuit of the depository with Nicholas Coleridge was offered astatine auction astatine the outpouring lunch. No V&A unit oregon resources were progressive and nary peculiar entree to the depository was offered. We recognize that neither Ben Elliot oregon Nicholas Coleridge attended the event.”

Powell said the V&A was risking its estimation arsenic a world-leading museum. She added: “It has survived implicit 150 years connected the ground of its groundbreaking exhibitions, housed successful 1 of the astir historical Victorian buildings successful Britain. It would beryllium unacceptable for the museum, foundation and nationalist assemblage to beryllium brought into disrepute by a rogue trustee and his links to Conservative enactment sleaze.”

Quintessentially has said Elliot nary longer has day-to-day power implicit the concern with a relation akin to a non-executive director. The steadfast has antecedently said it “completely condemns President Putin’s penetration of Ukraine” and was “monitoring its subordinate basal to guarantee it was not servicing immoderate idiosyncratic oregon firm assemblage connected sanctions lists, confirming that determination were nary truthful far”.

It deleted a webpage detailing its beingness successful Russia, with astir 50 unit successful the country, which had said the institution had “15 years’ acquisition providing luxury manner absorption services to Russia’s elite and firm members”.
The Conservative enactment has been approached for comment.

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