Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Ben Elliot has been Conservative co-chairman since 2019

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has urged the Conservative Party to sack its co-chairman Ben Elliot over his links to Russian donors.

Sir Keir said there was “growing concern” over oligarchs’ money and it “should not influence our politics”.

Mr Elliott also runs Quintessentially, a company supplying services for wealthy clients, including Russians based in London.

The BBC has asked the Conservatives for a response to Sir Keir’s comments.

Labour claims the party has raised almost £2m from donors with links to Russia since Boris Johnson appointed Mr Elliot as co-chairman in July 2019.

Those giving money are all UK citizens – which they have to be under electoral law.

Speaking last month, Conservative foreign minister Amanda Milling said: “Many are critics of [Russian President Vladimir] Putin, and it is completely wrong and discriminatory to tar them with the same brush.”

Quintessentially arranges luxury services including travel, accommodation, education, parties, personal shopping and weddings for wealthy clients.

In 2014 Mr Elliot, who is the nephew of the Duchess of Cornwall, told the Gentleman’s Journal: “Last month we added a dedicated Russian team to our London offices due to the influx in Russian-speaking clients coming into London, so we’re still doing very well within the Russian market.”

The company opened an office in Moscow in 2006, which is still operating, but its UK-facing website, in its list of 40 worldwide offices, no longer mentions Moscow.

Quintessentially has been approached by the BBC for a comment.

A spokesperson told the Financial Times: “The group continues to actively monitor its member base and corporate clients to ensure that it is not servicing any individual or corporate body that is on the sanctions lists that have been issued by the UK, EU and US governments. Moreover, it can confirm that it definitively is not engaged with anyone on those lists.”

The company has denied any links with individuals placed under sanctions by the UK, EU or US since President Vladimir Putin’s forces invaded Ukraine last week.

Media caption,

Tory co-chairman Ben Elliot should “stand back” or be sacked over his links to Russian donors, says Sir Keir Starmer.

Speaking in Birmingham, following Labour’s victory in the Birmingham Erdington by-election, Sir Keir said: “It’s in everybody’s best interest if Ben Elliot steps back from his role [with the Conservatives] and I think he should actually be sacked from it.

“There’s growing concern about the links between the Conservative Party and Russian money. Ben Elliot is at the heart of that. We need to strip Russian money away from our politics and not allow it to influence our politics.”

The Labour said the risk was that if the Conservative government did not “go really hard” on sanctions, some people will say it is because the party is “reliant on Russian money”.

The UK government has imposed asset freezes on some Russian banks and individuals with links to President Vladimir Putin following the invasion of Ukraine.

On Thursday it sanctioned two more oligarchs – Alisher Usmanov and Igor Shuvalov.

Other governments have also imposed sanctions, including, in some cases, confiscating people’s assets.

The French authorities seized a super yacht belonging to oligarchs earlier this week.

Recent research by campaign group Transparency International suggests £1.5bn worth of UK property has been bought by Russians accused of corruption or links to the Kremlin since 2016.