Questions are being raised about one of the biggest donors to North Somerset MP Liam Fox who is at the centre of allegations of cronyism following appointments to key roles in government and is linked to the Post Office scandal.

Simon Blagden – who was non-executive chair of Fujitsu Telecommunications between 2005 and 2019 and served on the leadership team of Fujitsu UK, the IT firm at the heart of the Post Office Horizon scandal – donated some £18,500 to Liam Fox between 2015 and 2023.

The payments were made through two consultancy companies, Pietas Ltd and Avre Partnership Ltd, which are reported to have given nearly £400,000 to the Conservative Party during the past two decades.

Politicians and campaigners are calling for urgent answers over the award of a series of contracts worth almost £400m to a broadband firm that Mr Blagden was previously paid to lobby for.

Questions have been raised about Mr Blagden’s £80,000-a-year appointment as chair of the government agency responsible for delivering faster broadband and mobile coverage. The government’s decision to make him a member of the advisory board of the UK Health Security Agency has also been criticised by the Labour Party.

The campaign group OpenDemocracy said that Mr Blagden’s “reward with a lucrative public post in the midst of an ongoing public scandal will likely raise eyebrows with the justice campaigners who secured the promise of quashed convictions and payouts, as well as an ongoing public inquiry into the miscarriage of justice”.

North Somerset Labour Party Chair Julian Morris commented: “This is not the first time that the whiff of controversy has surrounded the substantial donations made to Liam Fox – and it probably won’t be the last.”

“Once again, it raises questions about what these donors expect in return for their generosity and, given that the vast majority have been made by companies or individuals from well outside North Somerset, how Liam Fox manages to squeeze in the time to represent his constituents.”

Liam Fox has accepted almost a quarter of a million pounds of donations and gifts since the last general election, according to the register of MPs’ interests. Several donations came from controversial sources, such as £10,000 from a former Russian businessman, Alexander Temerko. Leader of the House of Commons Penny Mordaunt has since suggested that colleagues should stop taking funds from Temerko.

In addition to Mr Temerko’s personal donation of £10,000, the company he co-owns – Aquind – has given Liam Fox a further £20,000 since the last general election. Aquind is an energy firm which has been seeking government approval for a controversial major infrastructure project.

Liam Fox also faced criticism after accepting a £20,000 donation from the Derbyshire-based firm SureScreen Diagnostics in July 2022, two years after he recommended the company to health secretary Matt Hancock. SureScreen went on to win a £500m Department of Health Covid testing contract. Fox accused the Good Law Project of a ‘baseless smear’ after it raised questions about the donation.

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