London, Aug 14 (IANS) Downing Street has been accused of deliberately creating a misleading impression in the appointment of an Indian-origin businessman to the House of Lords, a leading British daily reported Thursday.
Lord Ranbir Singh Suri, chairman of Oceanic Jewellers Ltd, was awarded a peerage earlier this month at the request of Prime Minister David Cameron. He has donated more than 300,000 pounds ($500,560) to the Conservative Party since 2004.
The government described the new Lord Suri as a “businessman” and “former general secretary of the Board of British Sikhs”, but the report in The Independent said the board has not existed for more than 20 years.
“He is no leading figure in Britain’s Sikh community and he is not associated with any of the leading Sikh organisations. Many in the Sikh community simply see Lord Suri as a businessman who has donated large sums of money (to the Tories),” the Sikh Federation UK was quoted as saying in a statement by the daily.
The Sikh Council UK, the largest Sikh representative body in the country, said it had never worked with Lord Suri. “We have not come across this individual before,” said Gurmel Singh, the council’s secretary general. “The first time I heard of him was when his name was mentioned (as a new peer).”
A Downing Street spokesperson said all appointments to the House of Lords are vetted by an independent commission.
“Beyond his extensive career in business, Ranbir Suri has devoted the last 40 years to a range of charitable and voluntary positions, including general secretary of the Board of British Sikhs in 1991-92,” the spokesperson said.
One of Britain’s richest Asians, Lord Suri was among a group of 22 new members who were awarded peerage earlier this month. He belongs to an exclusive dinner club only open to those who have donated more than 10,000 pounds to the Conservative Party.