Conservative candidate Richard Harrington has defended his political donations and criticised his rivals for resorting to ‘desperate personal attacks’.

The Liberal Democrats pointed to the huge sums of money the Tory hopeful had received from individual donors, businesses and “secretive dining clubs” in 2014.

Councillor Stephen Giles-Medhurst said Watford 'deserves an MP that will stand up for the whole town, not one funded by secretive dining clubs'. 

The Watford Labour group has also previously raised concerns about the donations made to the Watford Conservatives by the private United & Cecil Club.

According to the They Work For You website, Mr Harrington received £161,000 in donations, or the value of a donation in kind, in 2014.

Mr Harrington said: “I became involved with the Watford Conservatives in 2009 to find the association had no funds available and didn’t own shop premises, unlike other parties.

“Since 2010, Watford Conservatives have held fundraising events to redress this imbalance and we are almost there.

“As for election expenditure, it is strictly controlled by law and all the parties have the same spending limits.

“All donors go through a rigorous compliance check at Conservative head office and I’m pleased the business club is supported by so many Watford businesses who want a Conservative Government.”

As the WO reported earlier this week, Liberal Democrat candidate Dorothy Thornhill received a £20,000 boost from Lord Oakeshott.

The former Lib Dem peer, now an independent, said it was “his bit to save our country from a Tory government cringing to UKIP.”

Mr Harrington said: “I'm quite surprised the Lib Dems have come out with this in the same week they have celebrated getting a £20,000 donation from a hedge fund supremo.

“I’m am also disappointed they are trying to make this election about desperate personal attacks, something I haven’t taken part in.

“I'm proud of my strong record delivering for Watford, so I'm concentrating on meeting residents and celebrating our successes.”