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Parties urged to return donation
The Tories and Liberal Democrats are facing demands to return a £520,000 bequest from an elderly spinster after it emerged she had intended it to go into government coffers.
Former nurse Joan Edwards, who died last September aged 90, apparently left the money in her will to "whichever government is in office at the date of my death" but rather than going to the public purse, it was channelled to the coalition parties.
Both the Conservatives and Lib Dems have insisted they were merely informed that they were beneficiaries of the will, and were not aware of the details.
When the bequest was disclosed along with other donations, officials said it had been left to "whichever party was in government".
Attorney General Dominic Grieve - a Tory MP - has also been embroiled in the extraordinary row after it emerged his office was approached by the solicitors acting as executors of the estate earlier this year.
A spokesman said the Treasury Solicitor replied on Mr Grieve's behalf suggesting "further steps the executors might wish to take to identify the correct recipient of the bequest", adding: "It did not, nor could have, advised to whom the bequest should go."
Shadow defence secretary Jim Murphy wrote on Twitter: "Unless... explanation of this is much clearer & more credible this looks dodgy as hell by Tories&Libs."
Labour colleague Ian Austin posted: "The lady obviously didn't intend her money to go to political parties, Do the decent thing!"
Sir Alistair Graham, former chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life, told the Daily Mail: "If they are in any doubt, they should take legal advice and consider giving the money back to the estate."
A Conservative Party spokesman said: "The solicitors for the deceased, acting as the executors, informed the Conservative Party that it was a beneficiary of the will."