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Business leader and former Tory donor 'couldn't believe you could buy access to ministers'

26 January 2022, 10:07 | Updated: 26 January 2022, 11:42

EXCLUSIVE: Julian Richer speaks to LBC during wide ranging interview

By Sophie Barnett

Julian Richer, the former Tory party donor and founder of Richer Sounds, has told LBC he "couldn't believe you could buy access to ministers" as he said he won't be getting out his cheque book for the Conservatives again.

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Mr Richer, an English retail entrepreneur, is best known as the founder and managing director of Richer Sounds, one of the UK's largest hi-fi retailers.

Speaking to Nick Ferrari at Breakfast, the philanthropist and author said he became a donor for the Tory party as he was "fascinated" by the process.

Quizzed by Nick on whether he would become a Conservative donor again, Mr Richer replied: "No, definitely not.

"Look, I did it with open eyes, I was fascinated - I couldn't believe actually that you could buy access to ministers.

"I was told if you pay so much a year you're in the club, and I did it and you know it was interesting. The whole process is wrong but you could argue the same for the Labour party, the unions have a lot of power there, big businesses do, with the Tories."

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Asked about the ongoing 'partygate' scandal and his views on the beleaguered Boris Johnson, Mr Richer said he "wouldn't want" the Prime Minister's job.

"What's more important in your mind, Ukraine or birthday cake?" Nick asked the entrepreneur, who is also a business columnist at The Sunday Times.

"Obviously Ukraine - I think birthday cake is symptomatic of too many mistakes.

"I think he's a decent bloke to go to the pub with, I think it'd be great fun having a drink with him," Mr Richer continued.

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"But he's been too unlucky, too many mistakes, and if lying is involved that becomes a whole other level.

"Of course, our leaders set the rules and we expect them to respect them. People have had a very tough time and they take this stuff seriously."

Mr Richer had his first shop at the age of 19, and by 23 he owned his very own Rolls-Royce.

He told Nick he has "learnt an awful lot" over the years.

"We've survived a very very tough environment, with one of the most ferociously competitive sectors," he said.

"The overriding thing i've learnt in those years is it's all about the people."

He told Nick "we believe happy people stay with you longer", referring to staff bonuses and free holidays given to employees who have been at the company a number of years.

"If you treat them well you're going to get a great output, and our business success has reflected that."

LBC has contacted The Conservative Campaign Headquarters for comment.

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