From the Guardian. Wednesday 3 February

The Tories today sought to step up pressure on Gordon Brown over claims that he had a secret fund to advance his Labour leadership ambitions before he became prime minister.

The Conservative party chairman, Eric Pickles, accused Brown of treating people "like fools" by denying any knowledge of the allegations at his weekly Commons question time. A complaint has been lodged with the parliamentary commissioner, John Lyon, about the prime minister's failure to make the relevant declaration in the register of members' interests.

The apparent existence of a special, £50,000-a-year fund was disclosed last month by Labour's former general secretary, Peter Watt. In his memoirs, the ex-official said Brown, then chancellor, had his "own personal pot of cash" while Tony Blair was Labour leader and prime minister.

Watt wrote: "This was money we could not dip into since it was set aside for the chancellor's own projects."

He added: "All we at HQ knew was that it was for Gordon's private polling. I never asked for more detail, so I don't know if that polling was to inform budget decisions, or for his long campaign to become party leader."

Tory MP David Evennett raised the issue at prime minister's questions today, saying: "All our constituents are rightly concerned about transparency, expenses and cleaning up politics.

"With that in mind, now that it is clear that there was a £50,000 fund solely for the prime minister's use at his headquarters, will he explain why he did not declare this in the members' register of interests?"

The prime minister replied simply: "I know nothing about what he's talking about."

Pickles wrote to the prime minister today, insisting that Brown's remark "simply cannot be true".

"It is clear from Peter Watt, the Labour party's former general secretary, that you were the beneficiary of a secret fund held by the Labour party," he said.

Referring to Brown's speech yesterday about restoring trust in politics, Pickles went on: "If you wish to restore trust in politics, you should stop treating people like fools by claiming that you were unaware of this fund when all the evidence points to the contrary.

"I therefore urge you to admit to this fund's existence, apologise for misleading the house and cooperate with any inquiries that John Lyon may wish to make."