David Cameron’s ‘youthful excesses’ defended

Downing Street has been forced to fend off claims that David Cameron participated in a bizarre student initiation ritual as a simmering row with a major Tory party donor erupted into the open.

The allegations concerning Cameron’s supposed youthful excesses have been made by the billionaire businessman and former Conservative Party treasurer Michael Ashcroft.

In a book co-authored with the journalist Isabel Oakeshott, the peer claimed Cameron was present at events where drugs were taken and was part of a decadent Oxford University dining society.

Ashcroft also alleged that Cameron was aware he had not given up his controversial ‘non-dom’ tax status when he joined the House of Lords earlier than was previously admitted.

Officially, No 10 refused to comment on the claims which appeared in a serialisation of the book Call Me Dave in the Daily Mail.

However, sources close to the prime minister said they “did not recognise” the accusations, while friends insisted he was never a member of the dining society.

Ashcroft donated €16.5m to the Conservatives. He acknowledged in writing the book that he had a personal “beef” with the prime minister after his failure to offer him a significant job in his administration following the formation of the coalition government in 2010.

The most extraordinary claim is that Mr Cameron took part in an initiation ritual for the notorious Piers Gaveston club — named after the supposed lover of Edward II — which involved him inserting “a private part of his anatomy” in the mouth of a dead pig.

Ashcroft said he was told about the incident by an Oxford contemporary of Mr Cameron who is now an MP and who claimed to have seen a photograph of the event.

The authors said they attempted to contact the owner of the alleged photograph but received no response.

The book also claims that as early as 2009, Ashcroft discussed with Mr Cameron how they could delay revealing his ‘non-dom’ tax status — which allowed him to avoid tax on overseas earnings — until after the following year’s general election.

This contradicts a Conservative assertion at the time when the controversial status became known in 2010 that Mr Cameron had been told only a month before.

Ashcroft had given a commitment to become resident in the UK for tax purposes when he was made a life peer by William Hague in 2000.

He subsequently gave up his non-dom status to retain his place on the Conservative benches in the Lords.

Ashcroft claimed Mr Cameron initially blamed his Liberal Democrat coalition partners for blocking his appointment, before offering him a junior role at the Foreign Office which he described as “declinable”,


Lifestyle

From Turkey to Vietnam, here’s where the chef and food writer has fallen in love with on her travellers.Sabrina Ghayour’s top 5 cities for foodies to visit

Dr Dympna Kavanagh, chief dental officer, Department of Health (University College Cork graduate)Working Life: Dr Dympna Kavanagh, chief dental officer, Department of Health

Like most Irish kids of our generation, chillies, spicy food, heat were never really big aspects of our formative eating experiences.Currabinny Cooks: Getting spicy in the kitchen

New Yorker Jessica Bonenfant Coogan has noticed a curious discrepancy between east and west when it comes to Cork county; arts infrastructure has tended to be better resourced in the west of Ireland’s largest county.Making an artistic mark in East Cork

More From The Irish Examiner