A Northern Ireland-born Conservative candidate at the centre of a row over the party leadership's interference in constituency affairs has insisted she is no closer to David Cameron “than any other candidate or MP”.
Co Armagh woman Joanne Cash, a top barrister in London, has denied she was given any special treatment because of her friendship with the Tory leader.
She told her local weekly newspaper, the Wood & Vale in London: “I’m no closer to him than any other candidate.”
Mr Cameron attended Eton at the same time as Ms Cash’s husband, Octavius Black.
The pregnant ‘Cameron cutie’, as she’s been dubbed, was one of a new generation of party members listed by Tatler as ‘Top Tory totty’.
Although she now lives in an expensive house on the edge of Notting Hill, Cash came from a less privileged background.
She was bought up in Portadown at the height of The Troubles. Her brother is an NHS doctor and her sister a teacher. Her father held down several jobs while her mother ran a newsagent's shop.
After state primary and secondary schools, she won a scholarship to Oxford to study English literature then qualified as a barrister, specialising in freedom of expression cases.
The Government's terrorism legislation, interference in personal freedoms and excessive reliance on bureaucracy, she maintained, encouraged her to become involved in Conservative politics.
It was reported Mr Cameron intervened when, earlier this month, Cash resigned as Conservative candidate after she clashed with a rival Amanda Sayers, who was elected president of the local party association. A day later Ms Sayers was removed and Ms Cash returned to the fold as the party’s candidate for Westminster North.
However, she is keen is distance herself from the notion she is in Mr Cameron’s inner circle.
She said: “The idea that it's something personally to do with me is false. If elected, I'm expecting to learn the ropes and become a good backbench MP. It's rubbish that I'm going to become a minister.”
Already well-known as a media barrister, she successfully applied to be a Parliamentary candidate in February 2006. She said: “I wanted to represent my own neighbourhood and represent the people who grew up in the same circumstances I'd grown up with.”
She wants to be part of a modern, transparent Conservative party and promises her expenses will be online and available for the public to see.
Ms Cash said: “One of the things that's emerged now is that I'm a fighter and I'll fight tooth and nail in the House of Commons to reform it.”