Newspaper slammed over Sheffield MP charity ‘smears’

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Sheffield Hallam.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, Liberal Democrat leader and MP for Sheffield Hallam.
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STAFF at Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg’s office have denied he was involved in any wrongdoing amid claims his aides intervened to help secure £12 million of public money for a charity linked to his wife.

Leaked emails show Matt Sanders, a member of the Sheffield Hallam MP’s team, asked for the cash to go to Booktrust, instead of competing with other charities, according to a national newspaper yesterday.

The newspaper said that, in a message to education officials, Mr Sanders referred to the fact Mr Clegg’s wife, Miriam, had hosted a function for the charity just weeks earlier,

Other emails reportedly show senior civil servants expressed concern at the way the bidding process had apparently been manipulated in Booktrust’s favour.

A Whitehall source said: “There was unease at the way it appeared Mr Clegg wanted special treatment for Booktrust and the fact Miriam’s name came up.

But a spokesman for the Liberal Democrat leader dismissed the claims as ‘smears and innuendo’ and said the decision to award the cash rested with Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove.

However, Tory MP Peter Bone is writing to Cabinet Secretary Jeremy Heywood to call for an investigation into the claims, while Labour MP John Mann demanded publication of all the emails.

A spokesman for Mr Clegg said: “Miriam has no role with the charity, beyond being supportive of its excellent work and having hosted a reception for the organisation.

“It is a great pity that Miriam is apparently unable to offer her support to a charity without some newspapers resorting to these kind of smears and innuendo.”