Britain's prime minister bowed to pressure and published details of who attended private meals for Conservative party donors, as pressure mounted for a full inquiry into the funding row.
Peter Cruddas was filmed by The Sunday Times boasting he could secure donors a private dinner with Cameron and an opportunity to shape government policy, for donations of £250,000 ($396,000, 299,000 euros).
In a bid to quell the scandal, Conservative minister Francis Maude told lawmakers in parliament that his party hoped to restart long-stalled reforms on party funding.
Repeating a call for a full investigation, he told parliament: "This is about the prime minister's chief fundraiser seeking cash for access."
And in a pointed jibe at the prime minister's absence from the chamber, he accused Cameron of being too ashamed to face lawmakers himself because "he has got something to hide".
Earlier Monday, Cameron broke into a pre-planned speech in London to confirm that he had hosted three dinners for supporters at his official Downing Street residence in London since coming to power in 2010.
He had met other donors at a fourth event there, he said.
But none of these had been fundraising events and they had largely involved old friends, he said.
"Peter Cruddas has never recommended anyone to come to dinner in my flat, nor has he been to dinner there," he added.
Hours later, he released a list of donors who had attended private lunches and dinners with him at Chequers, Cameron's grace-and-favour residence in the English countryside to the west of London.
Cameron also promised to publish all such future dinners, compile a register of major Tory donors who attend party fundraising events, and draw up new guidance for ministers on lobbying.
The prime minister added that the row had proved there was "an urgent need for party funding reform" after years of disagreement between his Conservative party, which relies on individual donations, and trade-union funded Labour.
Cameron had already condemned Cruddas' filmed remarks as "completely unacceptable and wrong".
But his Downing Street office had initially rejected calls to publish details of his meetings with donors.
Then came Cameron's abrupt change of tack in his speech and the release of the statement a few hours later.
In his resignation statement, Cruddas said the comments recorded by undercover reporters for the Sunday Times had been "bluster" and insisted money could not buy access to ministers.
Concerns over lobbying in politics are not new.
But the timing of the latest row is damaging for the Conservatives.
Having only last week announced they were cutting the top rate of income tax, they now have to fend off accusations that they are pandering to the rich.
Their junior coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats, condemned Cruddas' comments and backed calls for a reform of party funding.
"What was Cameron thinking?" he wrote.
Cameron has himself faced questions in the past year over his links to Murdoch's empire.
He has been forced to distance himself from two former editors of Murdoch's now closed News of the World tabloid -- his friend Rebekah Brooks and former media advisor Andy Coulson -- after they were arrested over phone hacking.
Source: AFP European Edition