UnionNews has learned that head of the right-wing lobby group will help lead tributes to the former prime minister after today’s funeral ceremony

Tim Lezard

TPAUnionNews has learned that the head of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, criticised for staying quiet on the cost of Margaret Thatcher’s funeral, will help to lead tributes to the former prime minister after the ceremony.

The pressure group prides itself on being an “independent grassroots campaign” for “ordinary taxpayers” and rarely misses an opportunity to call for tighter controls on the public purse.

However, it has refused requests to comment on the fact taxpayers will foot the bill for the ceremony, estimated to cost around £10m.

A TPA spokesman told UnionNews the organisation would not be getting involved in the debate, saying it had “become a purely partisan issue” and was about “an old person’s funeral”.

When asked if he thought that was an odd position for the TPA to take, he added: “I’m sure you will find it odd and you’re welcome to draw inaccurate conclusions.”

But it has emerged that TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair will speak at a special tribute event run by the “non-partisan, libertarian” group the Freedom Association after the ceremony on Wednesday afternoon.

Writing on his Daily Telegraph blog, Tory MEP Daniel Hannan says Sinclair will join others “who value Margaret Thatcher’s legacy”, including himself and Mark Littlewood, director general of the Institute of Economic Affairs.

In September last year, the Political Scrapbook blog revealed the TPA and the Freedom Association supported a conference hosted by Berkshire Conservatives entitled, ‘How to secure a Conservative majority in 2015′.

The TPA declined to comment on whether there was a connection between these events and its reluctance to criticise the funeral costs.

Journalist Ally Fogg has compiled a list of the things the TPA has commented on since 1 April – and the one thing it hasn’t.

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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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