A representative for the chairman of JCB, the UK-based manufacturer known the world over for its bright yellow diggers, has been named by the Sunday Times as belonging to “a secret club of Conservative donors granted access to senior ministers and advisers during the pandemic”.

According to the paper, about a dozen of the party’s most generous donors have regular access to PM Boris Johnson’s top team as part of an elite “advisory board”. 

Philip Bouverat was named by the Sunday Times as attending these ‘advisory board’ meetings on behalf of Lord Bamford, the chairman of JCB.

Lord Bamford has donated £5.2m to the Conservative Party, including £2.8m under Johnson, the report said. 

According to the Sunday Times, club members lobbied for an early relaxation of lockdown measures in 2020 and for tax benefits for high net-worth individuals. Other members sought public appointments or honours from the PM, and included investors in property, construction and big tobacco, as well as the wife of Russian President Putin’s former deputy finance minister.

JCB is a trading name of JC Bamford Excavators which owns 25% of captive lessor JCB Finance in a joint venture with Lombard/NatWest, which holds a 75% stake. JCB Finance is a major player in the UK leasing market and is represented on the Finance & Leasing Association 16-member board. It is also the largest owner of JCB equipment in the world, according to its LinkedIn page.

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JCB Finance’s revenue in 2020 was £87.67m, up from £79.79m in 2019.

JCB Finance’s aim – according to a LinkedIn post – is to finance JCB equipment, but “is also able to finance other equipment, providing it is not a new machine that is directly competitive with any of the JCB range.”

As sales director Gary McGinty says on the company website: “If it’s on track or tyres, potentially we could finance it”.

Lombard/NatWest provides JCB Finance “with guidance and access to all the central resources it needs and helps to determine policy in all key areas such as finance, risk, human resources or environment,” according to a Companies House filing. 

JC Bamford Excavators is a subsidiary of several other corporate entities, including JCB Group Holdings Sarl, a Switzerland-registered company, that is ultimately controlled by Bamford family interests.