Scottish Tory denies accusation of “dark money” donations
The Conservative Borders MP John Lamont has insisted that “donations were all permissible […] and properly declared”.
In an attempt to dispel reports of “dark money” being used to fund the Scottish Conservatives 2017 General Election campaign, Lamont said the Prime Minister had assured him all donations by the ‘Scottish Unionist Association Trust’, were above board.
At the time the Trust had no established offices, public accounts or information on who was in charge of running the group.
Despite this they donated nearly £29,000 to Tory candidates across Scotland, and £12,000 to John Lamont in particular.
Under Electoral Commission rules, unincorporated associations that have donated more than £25,000 a year must register with the commission, and declare gifts of more than £7,500.
Despite this, the SUAT is not listed in the commission’s register, leading the commission to conduct an examination.
In a statement the trust said it was formed in 1968 to take over the assets of the then Scottish Unionist Association.
It continued: “It invests those assets and makes the proceeds available to further the aims of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.
“All UK taxation liabilities have been and continue to be met in full.”
This isn’t the first time the Scottish Tories have become mired in a “dark money” scandal, with questions still unanswered about former Tory candidate, Richard Cook’s £425,000 donation to the DUP during the Brexit referendum.
Due to differences in Northern Irish electoral law, the DUP previously did not have to reveal who its donors were, or where the money came from in the first place.
Scottish Labour has called upon Tory party leader, Ruth Davidson, to reveal who the donors behind the trust are and what “they expect in return for their six-figure sum”.