Tory 'Dark Money' Donor could be hauled in front of MPs
Richard Cook, chair of the Constitutional Research Council and former Scottish Tory candidate linked to a controversial “dark money” donation of £435,000 to the Democratic Unionists during the Brexit referendum could be asked to answer questions in parliament after failing to answer written questions by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee in Westminister.
However, Cook has denied he failed answer questions, claiming that the DCMS committee had "lost the letter.”
This was denied by a committee spokesperson, who told the Herald: "I have just confirmed with the Clerk of the Committee that we have received nothing in response from Richard Cook. The letter to him refers to the fact that if the Committee’s questions are not responded to, one of the options available to the Committee is to call him to give evidence in person.”
The questions relate to an advertisement taken out by the DUP in the Metro Newspaper, entirely paid for by the Constitutional Research Council. Under Northern Irish election rules, the donation did not have to be legally declared, however the party later voluntarily disclosed the source of the money as coming from the CRC.
The group has so far refused to disclose where it gains its funding from, and has continued to fund pro-Brexit groups, such as the European Research Group, chaired by Jacob Rees Mogg.
A spokesperson for the Constitutional Research Council said they: "Don't have time for any further discussion on this matter.”.
Cook has been involved in a series of business dealings with Saudi and Pakistani firms, including founding the "Five Star Investment Management Ltd" in 2013 with the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency, Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, leading the Electoral Commission to investigate whether the source of the money could have come from international donors, although a report later found that the money was permissible under UK law.
It is understood the CRC is now planning to fundraise for a No vote, in the event of a second independence referendum in Scotland.