Black Country property tycoons the Richardson twins claim they were targeted by controversial Labour fundraiser Lord Levy and invited to contribute #1 million to party funds.

The approach, at a meeting in the House of Lords, was made within months of Tony Blair coming to power in 1997, Roy Richardson told The Birmingham Post yesterday.

Mr Richardson and his brother Don (pictured with Roy, right), who are reputedly worth #309 million after a lifetime of property development, were surprised to be contacted by Lord Levy since they had for years been financial contributors to the Conservative Party and helped to advise Baroness Thatcher on industrial policy.

Roy Richardson said: "He sent a letter inviting us to go down and see him.

"I think he thought we had got money and he had been aware that we had donated to the Conservative Party."

The meeting did not go well and no money was handed over, according to Mr Richardson.

The twins felt Lord Levy was not the sort of person they could do business with.

Mr Richardson stressed that at no time was any suggestion made that peerages or other honours could be arranged.

"I couldn't accuse him of anything untoward at all. He was just trying to do his job.

"I think he soon realised it wasn't worth him pursuing us," Mr Richardson said. He added: "We have certainly never approached anyone in Government to look after our own interests or to get a peerage."

The Richardsons say they donated to the Conservative Party in an effort to get recognition of problems facing the West Midlands.

Mr Richardson said: "We come from the Black Country and we have always tried to sell the area and make sure that people in London know what the concerns are.

"We think the Black Country has been neglected and we want to bring it to the notice of whichever Government is in power.

"Our view is that unless you donate, your voice isn't listened to. We don't want anything personally out of it."

The Richardsons took the view that a donation to Labour would do nothing for the Black Country.

Mr Richardson added: "Levy didn't offer any influence. It came over that he wasn't the sort of fellow who could do anything for the Black Country.

"He did not say he could get us meetings with Ministers. But we gained the impression that any approaches by us to people in authority would have to go through him.

"He didn't speak our language. He didn't impress us. He didn't even give us a cup of tea."

Mr Richardson's account has been refuted by Labour, who insist that the meeting was asked for by the twins.

The allegations are the latest twist in a gathering storm over financial contributions to political parties.

Science Minister Lord Sainsbury is facing a Whitehall investigation after being accused of breaking the ministerial code of conduct by failing to declare a #2 million loan to Labour.

Last week, one of the Tories' big backers, millionaire West Bromwich car importer Bob Edmiston, revealed he had made a #2 million loan to the party.

Mr Edmiston is one of four businessmen whose nomination for the House of Lords has been blocked by the House of Lords Appointments Commission.