Britain's David Cameron was under pressure on Monday to disclose his meetings with donors after his Conservative party's main fundraiser quit over claims he tried to sell access to the prime minister.
British Prime Minister David Cameron delivers a speech on March 26, 2012. [Xinhua]
The opposition Labour party has demanded an inquiry after Tory treasurer Peter Cruddas was filmed offering donors access to private dinners with Cameron and his cabinet colleagues, and an opportunity to shape government policy.
Cameron's office admitted a "handful" of Tory donors had been for dinner with the prime minister and his wife Samantha at their official Downing Street residence, but it is resisting any further disclosures.
Senior Tory minister Francis Maude said the government had already been very open about revealing ministerial meetings but it would be "unreasonable" to detail every single meeting that Cameron had, particularly in his home.
"What is being alleged here is that you can buy influence, that you can buy policy, and that's simply not the case," Maude said.
He conceded Conservative donor and former treasurer Michael Spencer had attended a private dinner at Downing Street but said he was an old friend of Cameron and his wife, and said concerns about such meetings were "a bit of nonsense".
Cruddas resigned early on Sunday following the publication of the footage shot by undercover reporters for the Sunday Times newspaper, although he said his comments were "bluster" and insisted money could not buy access to ministers.
Cameron welcomed the resignation, just one month after Cruddas took the job as Tory treasurer, saying his remarks were "completely unacceptable" and promising an internal Conservative party inquiry.
However, Labour leader Ed Miliband is pressing for an independent probe.
He said the row involved "very disturbing revelations about the way that access was sought, the way that access was bought or apparently at least offered, and that's why we need a proper investigation into what happened".
Rupert Murdoch, the owner of the Sunday Times whose frequent meetings with successive British prime ministers have also come under scrutiny, weighed in on Twitter, backing an independent probe and asking: "What was Cameron thinking?"
The issue of lobbying and party funding has long been a concern in Britain, but the timing of the latest row is particularly damaging for the Conservatives as they fight off claims of pandering to the rich in last week's budget.
Finance Minister George Osborne, a Conservative in the coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, cut the top rate of income tax on Wednesday, a highly controversial move given the government's program of spending cuts intended to reduce the deficit.