Peter Geoghegan’s excellent “Democracy for Sale” lifts the lid on the £435,000 “dark money” that was funnelled via the DUP to circumnavigate the Brexit referendum spending limits by former Scottish Tory Vice Chair Richard Cook’s Constitutional Research Council. Cook has also boasted of huge sums being available to make a “new and positive campaign for the Union” during any indyref2 and the leading anti self-government campaigning group Scotland in Union is building up a war chest for campaigning in the run up to May’s Holyrood elections.
In 2017, William Ramsay, then deputy chair of Scotland in Union, boasted to diners at an exclusive fundraising dinner in London that the pro-union group had been in talks with Cambridge Analytica.
In December 2017 a huge tranche of information regarding Scotland in Union’s networks, secret letter writing groups and it’s big business and land owner donors, including a foreign billionaire with Royal connections https://www.thenational.scot/news/15811372.scotland-union-face-questions-reveal-foreign-billionaires-donation/ was leaked to Bella Caledonian https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2017/12/31/scotland-in-union-data-dump/ among others. The leaked information included an exchange of correspondence with the Electoral Commission regarding the non reporting of large donations by a non party political campaigning group. https://www.thenational.scot/news/15811372.scotland-union-face-questions-reveal-foreign-billionaires-donation/ The leak included an extensive list of donors who helped raise £300,000 at dinners and auctions.
This information is clearly in the public interest but Scotland in Union’s lawyers and Pamala Nash immediately sprang into action with all sorts of legal threats and even reported the National to the independent Press Standards Organisation Case 01538-18 Nash v The National https://www.ipso.co.uk/rulings-and-resolution-statements/ruling/?id=01538-18
Scotland in Union’s latest accounts, published on Companies House for the year to 30th November 2019, showed a surplus of £122,550, up from £62,529 for the previous year. https://find-and-update.company-information.service.gov.uk/company/SC492324
The accounts show that the millionaire grocery tycoon David Sands owner of David’s Kitchen in Kirkcaldy, Glenrothes and Falkirk was appointed a director along with Lib Dem former teacher Carole Ford and Labour trade unionist Johanna Baxter.
In its submission to the Electoral Commission, Scotland in Union stated that
SiU’s most recent accounts showed a balance of £122,550 as at 30 November 2019 but this year’s accounts don’t have to be lodged until after May’s elections. To date, Scotland in Union has not registered as a Non Party Campaigner with the Electoral Commission yet the “long campaign” for expenses will commence on 6 January.
Given the Brexit “dirty money” and wealthy individuals and organisations living outside Scotland donating huge amounts to the No campaign in 2014, it is essential that the rules governing IndyRef2 prohibit any body or trust or company giving donations to the Yes or No campaign other than those individuals who are registered for paying Income Tax in Scotland.