ONE of Britain’s top Asian entrepreneurs valued at £130 million has donated £500,000 to the Liberal Democrats ahead of the May election.
Dinesh Dhamija, founder of ebookers, the first online travel agency in the UK, made the donation in two instalments in November and earlier this month.
He is involved in the party’s election campaign, and is traveling to Solihull with Lorely Burt MP next week to canvass constituents. Dhamija, who features in the Asian Rich List 2015 of the wealthiest Asians in Britain, that will be launched at a high-profile event next Friday (27), previously donated a total of £62,495 to the Conservatives in 2010 and 2013.
He told Eastern Eye he was a member of the Leaders Club, a group of donors who are rewarded with private dinners, lunches
and drinks parties with the prime minister and other ministers. “I was giving money to the Conservatives, I was a member of the Leaders Club and the Conservatives were moving to the right because a lot of people were deserting them to go to UKIP.
“The Conservatives were trying to appease some of the UKIP demands so some of the supporters could come back which means the left side, where I was, was left so I decided to go towards the Lib Dems. I like to be part of the EU, no business likes uncertainty and with a referendum, that’s not really good at all as far as I’m concerned. With ebookers I made most of my money in Europe,”
Dhamija told EE.
The businessman said he spoke mainly to Asians when he was out on the election trail, and young constituents were widely divided about who they would vote for.
“The Lib Dems moderate both parties, they are doing a good job. They won’t get the same number of seats they got last time, but you don’t support people when they are going to win, you support them when they are down,” he said.
Dhamija, who was born in Australia to an Indian Diplomat, got an MA in law at Cambridge University in 1974. His travel empire, which was sold for £308m in 2005, started when he began selling travel tickets with his wife from a kiosk in Earl’s Court station.
This business became an overnight success and in 1983 it evolved into Flightbookers Ltd. The company’s internet division was so
successful that, in 1999, it was separated to form ebookers.