A fortnight's work experience on Tatler was auctioned for £4,000 at the Conservative's fund raising Black and White Party, where a range of interships were open to bidders, according to the Mail on Sunday.
In a story headlined 'Cash for internships: Tory backers pay party £2,000 a time to buy their children work experience at top City banks and hedge funds,' the MoS quotes Labour MP Tom Watson saying: "This is a crass example of rich Tories buying privilege. Most young people could only dream of this opportunity. The Conservatives flog them like baubles and fill their coffers with the profits. It is obscene."
The MoS says the auction came weeks after the Government launched its Equality Strategy, which pledged that every Whitehall department would "work to promote diversity, for example through internship schemes to widen access to the Civil Service for those who are currently under-represented such as ethnic minorities and disabled people".
The paper also claims Conservative Party leader David Cameron "went to extraordinary lengths to conceal the auction by banning the media from attending the function".
- Interesting tweet from Andrew Neil: "If Tories seen as recruiting agency for auction of interns then maybe broke law. See Sect 6 of Employ. Agencies Act 1973 http://j.mp/gEX4Sm"
- Neil also writes on his BBC blog: "In today's incredibly competitive labour markets work experience matters more than ever when it comes to securing that first rung on the ladder. Companies might like to think how they make their internships open to as wide a selection of the talented from all backgrounds as they can. I suggest that internships granted on the basis of parents who can afford £400 a head for dinner then £3,000 per internship cannot be regarded as entirely fair or meritocratic."
- BrianCathcart , Professor of Journalism at Kingston University, tweets on the MoS revelations: "Still the day's most amazing story: http://bit.ly/dOkwcd Like something from Louis XIV's France. Depraved, corrupt, shameless."
- The NUJ is running a Cashback for Interns campaign.