'Saudi Newcastle United consortium' partner is 'donor to Conservatives'
A partner in the Saudi consortium that attempted to purchase English Premier League club Newcastle United - which Boris Johnson reportedly asked an aide to inquire into - is a significant donor to the UK’s Conservative Party, The Guardian has reported.
The investor had allegedly donated money to Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign and constituency office, the daily added.
Jamie Reuben, along with dad David and uncle Simon, partnered with Riyadh’s Public Investment Fund, plus businesswoman Amadan Staveley, in the planned £300m takeover.
Jamie Reuben has given £700,000 to the Tory party, The Guardian said.
"We're not denying that Jamie has a relationship with Boris Johnson and they talk," a Reuben Brothers company spokesman said to the daily.
"But Jamie is quite specific that he hasn't contacted or talked to him or Lord Lister about the Newcastle deal."
Boris Johnson allegedly asked his aide Eddie Lister to look into the Saudi consortium's takeover after receiving a WhatsApp message from Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in June 2020.
Prince Mohammed insisted the Premier League "reconsider and correct its wrong conclusion" in blocking the buy-out efforts, according to The Daily Mail.
The crown prince also said that killing the deal could cause consequences for "both our countries [sic] economic and commercial relations", according to the reports.
Admitting the aide was asked to look into the matter, a spokesman for the British premier denied Johnson had intervened.
"[Johnson] didn't ask [the aide] to intervene. The prime minister didn't intervene. The government was not involved in any point in these takeover talks," he said.
When Johnson was informed by Lister that he was optimistic about the possibility of the buyout being rescued, the PM is reported to have said, "brilliant".
The consortium's buyout attempt was prevented after the Premier League said it was, in essence, an extension of the Saudi state.
The matter is currently undergoing legal arbitration in London.
The Guardian said it did not receive a direct response regarding whether Boris Johnson talked about the Newcastle takeover with Jamie Reuben.
However, a Whitehall spokesperson said: "This was a commercial matter for the parties concerned."
They stressed that the British Government did not influence the buyout discussions.