Surrey councillor Christine Elmer, one of the few Conservatives ever to be associated with the organisation Conservatives Against Fox Hunting (CAFH) has defected to the Liberal Democrats. News of the defection was published on the Surrey Liberal Democrats website: Top Tory councillor in Surrey defects to the Lib Dems

The CAFH group is run by Lorraine Platt. According to its website, CAFH has five patrons, two of whom are Government Ministers (Caroline Dineage, Minister for Women, Equalities & Early Years and Tracey Crouch, Minister for Sport, Heritage & Tourism). Prominent former Minister Dominic Raab, is also a patron. Ms Platt and her husband are both prominent members of Mr Raab’s Esther and Walton constituency association, as was Cllr Elmer. Cllr Elmer is an extremely active and vocal member of CAFH and another group called the Conservative Animal Welfare Foundation (CAWF). There are numerous photos of Cllr Elmer campaigning for CAFH with Ms Lorraine Platt.

As well as being the Director of CAFH, Ms Platt is also runs CAWF. Earlier this year Ms Platt was ordered by Conservative Party Chairman Sir Patrick McLoughlin MP “to withdraw their use of the official Party logo and limit their operationsHands off Tory logo, animal groups told . Ms Platt is a Trustee at the League Against Cruel Sports (LACS), an organisation that has twice been sanctioned by the Charity Commission for campaigning against the Conservative Party.

Two months ago CAFH Director, Lorraine Platt, was forced to reveal the identity of the animal rights organisations that have been funnelling tens of thousands of pounds into CAFH over the past five years. It has emerged that an animal rights activist that runs Network for Animals made a donation of £10,000 to the SNP in 2015 and well over £1 million to the Labour Party (including £270,000 since 2010) has also provided a significant amount of the funding for the CAFH group.

Questions were first raised about the groups donors last December, when Times reporters questioned Ms Platt regarding the identity of an unnamed “animal welfare charity” that had donated £10,000 to the group in 2013: Tories urged to sever ties with secretive anti-hunting group . Ms Platt initially refused to reveal the identity of the unnamed “animal welfare charity” .

However, after months of speculation, the day after the publication of the second Times story, Ms Platt updated the CAFH website to reveal the identity of the mystery financiers: http://www.conservativesagainstfoxhunting.com/about-us-2/ . It now reads:

“We would like to thank Network for Animals, IFAW in Action, Lush Cosmetics, and all the members of the public who have made a financial donation to support our campaign against repeal of the Hunting Act 2004 over the past years.”

Commenting upon Cllr Elmer’s defection to the Liberal Democrats, Chief Executive of the Countryside Alliance, Tim Bonner, said:

“The evidence is clear that CAFH is not a ‘Conservative’ group but a sock puppet set up with the support of anti-Conservative elements to exaggerate the support for the animal rights and anti-hunting agenda within the Conservative Party.

“CAFH and its sister organisation (CAWF) are both solely owned by League Against Cruel Sports (LACS) trustee Lorraine Platt. They have no other official officers or oversight structure. CAFH is funded by “Network for Animals” which gave £1 million to the Labour Party in 1997 and is still the Party’s ninth biggest donor. It has also received funds from LUSH whose founder funds campaigns against Conservative candidates.

“Those few MPs who are linked to the organisation should look very carefully at its ownership, governance and funding, and ask themselves whether it is right to remain associated with it in any way.”

Media Relations Manager at the Alliance, Tom Hunt, added:

“The defection of one of their most prominent supporters to the Liberal Democrats further reinforces the sense that far from being a ‘Conservative’ group,  the Blue Fox group is largely about anti-Conservative forces seeking to exert influence on the Conservative Party.”