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Tory donor threatens legal action against Government and Penny Mordaunt
24 January 2022, 15:44
Alexander Temerko accused the trade minister of being the ‘biggest threat to security’ after she campaigned against the Aquind power cable project.
The major Tory donor behind a blocked £1.2 billion cross-Channel power cable project has threatened to take legal action against the Government and trade minister Penny Mordaunt.
Alexander Temerko said he will within weeks bring a judicial review against Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng’s decision against Aquind’s proposed electricity link between Portsmouth and Normandy.
And he said he would bring unspecified legal action against Ms Mordaunt personally, describing her as the “biggest threat to security” after she successfully campaigned against the project.
The Portsmouth North MP, a former defence secretary, had warned the Aquind link was a threat to Britain’s “energy security” as she urged ministers to prevent the plans going ahead.
Aquind Limited, part-owned by Russian-born former oil tycoon Victor Fedotov, has donated at least £430,000 to the Tory Party and MPs.
Mr Temerko, a British citizen who was born in the former Soviet Union and is a director of the company, has given more than £730,000.
In an interview with the PA news agency, Mr Temerko expressed anger at the Conservative MP’s intervention as he struck out at Mr Kwarteng’s “unusual decision” last week.
“We are preparing a judicial review and we are considering action against Penny Mordaunt because there’s something in her statement that was absolutely wrong,” the donor said.
Mr Temerko also said he was considering writing a “letter to the Prime Minister,” with whom he describes being “political friends for many years”, over Ms Mordaunt’s role in Government.
“She must be silent if she is a minister, if she wants to be an active politician she should resign,” Mr Temerko said, having previously described her as an “absolutely uncontrollable woman”.
On Thursday, a letter published on the Planning Inspectorate website showed Mr Kwarteng decided to “refuse development consent” having considered his obligations under the energy National Policy Statement.
Mr Kwarteng was said not to be satisfied that “appropriate alternatives to the proposed route” had been sufficiently considered, raising particular concerns of “the proposed landfall in an urban location”.
Ahead of his decision, Ms Mordaunt said that Aquind’s plans would make Britain more reliant on France, allowing Paris to “use future energy supply as a bargaining chip”.
Mr Temerko claimed her comments made her a “warmonger”, adding: “It’s absolutely dreadful if you want to just punish my business, and at the same time she tried to punish all business of interconnectors with France and Europe.
“It’s very unprofessional, she is a threat to security. Penny Mordaunt is the biggest threat to security for our country.”
Having served in the Royal Navy Reserve since 2009 and achieving the rank of honorary captain, Ms Mordaunt responded: “I’m happy to be judged on my record.”
Mr Temerko argued that his interconnector would bring down energy prices after its completion and hit out at local campaigners against his plans.
“Of course, they want… a cheaper price of electricity, but ‘not in my village’, you know,” he said.
Asked if he was prolonging the pain for Portsmouth residents by bringing legal action, he insisted that “there will be disruption, but a small disruption”.
Mr Temerko insisted there was nothing wrong with giving large donations to the ruling party while pressing the Government to approve his project.
“I don’t see there’s a conflict of interest,” Mr Temerko said, adding that “of course” he will continue to donate to the Conservatives.
“I support many, many MPs, it’s my friends, it’s not my donations because I want to receive something,” he added.
Mr Temerko said he has six weeks to bring the judicial review against the Government, and would not state what kind of action he would bring against Ms Mordaunt, who has been contacted for a comment.
With the Prime Minister facing a threat to his premiership over allegations of rule-breaking parties in No 10 during Covid restrictions, the major party donor offered his backing.
“I think for today Boris Johnson is the best option.
“I believe Boris Johnson is the best candidate to win the next election,” he said, adding that the public outrage is “temporary”.