MPs in the region received a six-figure sum in political donations this year.

The Northern Echo is looking at who has been donating the cash – and what it is being spent on.

Among the donors to help fund MPs in the region are Lawrence Neil Tomlinson, a racing tycoon with an estimated fortune of £550m, Ukranian businessman and prominent Conservative Alexander Temerko and exclusive London club the Carlton Club.

Read more: Every single donation, gift and second job linked to North East MPs

In total, 11 MPs declared a total of £178,396.60.

Seven Conservatives received donations from a variety of sources, while four Labour MPs declared ones from unions and charities.

The Conservative MP to receive the most in declared donations this year was Darlington’s Peter Gibson, who received £22,500 from five different donors, including Mr Tomlinson, who gave him £5,000.

Another of his donors is IX Wireless, which donated sums of £2,500 to four other Tory MPs in Teesside and County Durham – Jill Mortimer, Richard Holden, Matt Vickers and Paul Howell.

The Northern Echo: MPs Peter Gibson, Jill Mortimer, Richard Holden and Matt Vickers all recieved donations from internet infrastructure company IX Wireless

The Preston-based telecommunications infrastructure provider, which is rolling out an “ultra speed” network in the North West, has donated more than £30,000 to backbench Conservative MPs, mostly in the North.

It is owned by Cohiba Communications Limited, which has three directors including James Wharton, a Tory peer and former MP for Stockton South

Mr Gibson said donations were spent on communicating with constituents. He said: “The Conservative Party receive donations both locally and nationally via party membership and party supporters. Where a MP knows an individual or organisation making a donation to the local or national party it is our duty to declare the donation via our Register of Financial Interests.

“The donations I have declared were made to South Durham Conservatives directly and are used to produce regular newsletters and surveys.”

Other prominent donors to have contributed to MPs in the region include Mr Temerko, who is a member of the party’s Leader Group, the top of a network of Tory donor clubs. He donated £5,000 to Simon Clarke.

Another is the Carlton Club, which was founded in 1832 as the original home of the Conservative Party. The elite London club donated £4,000 to Matt Vickers.

A spokesperson for Mr Vickers said he used all donations on communications with constituents, normally done through newsletters and leaflets.

The Stalbury Trustees, who donated £116,000 to Tory candidates in the lead up to the 2019 election, are among Jill Mortimer’s backers.

The Hartlepool MP, who was elected in May, was given £5,000 by the private unlimited company, whose officers include The seventh Marquis of Salisbur, the seventh Earl of Verulam and Marquess of Salisbury.

What can donations be spent on? 

There are rules about what donated money can be spent on and who is allowed to give cash to politicians in the UK.

And all donations have to be declared on the register of members' financial interests.

The money can be spent on things like political activities like campaigning, office supplies, staff and leaflets.

Donations can also be given to specific parliamentary groups to fund their work.

For example, Mary Glindon, the MP for North Tyneside, declared £48,411 of donations from alcohol and addiction charities which pays for the administration and coordination of the Drugs, Alcohol and Justice Parliamentary Group, of which she co-chairs.

Ian Mearns, MP for Gateshead, declared £51,269.60 from from three unions, which paid similar costs for the RMT and Bakers' Union Parliamentary Groups.

And Grahame Morris, MP for Easington, declared a £17,460 donation from the National Union of Journalists for the administration of the NUJ Parliamentary Group.

Christopher Massey, a politics lecturer for Teesside University, said their were pros and cons to political donations.

He said: "The positive would be that you can argue that the money is largely spent on democratic activity. A lot goes on campaigns and on leaflets and election activity. You could argue that increases democracy.

"The disadvantage is politically it keep the system we have. Most major donations go towards the Conservative party, most of the ones from trade unions goes to the Labour party. The Lib Dems and other smaller parties are left scrapping for the rest.

The difficulty is that longer established parties have longer links and get more money to campaign with, so essentially they are able to get more propaganda out there."

Dr Massey, who is also a Labour councillor for Redcar and Cleveland, added the process was transparent - but often went under the radar.

He added: "The problem would be what is the alternative? It would be state-funded campaigning but that would be just unpopular if not more so."

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