MP defends decision by North East Derbyshire Conservatives to accept cash donations from company with links to fracking

MP Lee Rowley has defended the decision by North East Derbyshire Conservatives to accept two cash donations of more than £6,000 from a company with links to fracking.

Mr Rowley was elected MP for North East Derbyshire in 2017 and has regularly voiced his opposition to fracking.

North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley.

North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley.

He has spoken on behalf of residents in Marsh Lane who are fighting a bid by oil and chemical firm, Ineos, to carry out fracking in the village and he is chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on the Impact of Shale Gas.

The Conservative MP hit back claiming Labour 's North East Derbyshire candidate is sponsored by a pro-fracking union and 'who has even signed a charter with the fracking industry in favour of shale gas development'.

Mr Rowley added that it was a 'silly smear' by Labour and called it 'nonsense'.

According to the East Midlands Labour Party, the North East Derbyshire Conservatives accepted a donation of £2,222.15 in December 2014 - before Mr Rowley was elected - and a donation of £4,000 on June 12, 2017, four days after the general election in which Mr Rowley was elected.

MP Lee Rowley (pictured right) at the general election in 2017.

MP Lee Rowley (pictured right) at the general election in 2017.

Both donations came from Dominic Johnson, the co-founder of Somerset Capital Management, which has a stake in some of the world’s largest oil and gas firms. Johnson co-founded the company with Jacob Rees-Mogg, Conservative MP for North East Somerset.

Mr Rowley said: "You can tell it’s just a few days before local elections and that Labour has run out of things to say when they resort to this kind of silly smear. I welcome donations from anyone who believes in the Conservative message of hard work and aspiration.

"This is exactly the kind of nonsense that turns people off politics. Everyone knows that I have been clear and consistent since my election in 2017 in opposing fracking. I will continue to do that.

"If I had wanted to play games like Labour are trying to do now, I could have highlighted how Labour’s Sheffield-based parliamentary candidate for North East Derbyshire is sponsored by a pro-fracking union who has even signed a charter with the fracking industry in favour of shale gas development. We haven’t, however, because we’d rather focus on the important things that make North East Derbyshire better rather than points scoring. Labour should stop the political games and focus on what matters to local residents.”

North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley, at the general election in 2017.

North East Derbyshire MP, Lee Rowley, at the general election in 2017.

A spokesperson for North East Derbyshire Labour said: “This confirms what we have known for a long time – Lee Rowley says one thing, but does another when it comes to standing up against fracking. Residents in North East Derbyshire have been adamant they do not want fracking in their backyard and have serious concerns about the threat to the local environment here.

“Mr Rowley has tried to pull the wool over people’s eyes, saying he is anti-fracking, despite his own Tory party being in favour, and now we know he’s got financial ties to a pro-fracking company.

“The Labour Party is the only major party committed to banning fracking, choosing instead to prioritise protecting the environment and investing in the green economy.”