Sunday, 05 August 2018 09:34

CALL FOR TORIES TO GIVE EVIDENCE TO MPs OVER DARK MONEY

The SNP has called for the Scottish Tories' 'dark money' to be investigated by a Commons Committee.
 

Brendan O'Hara MP, a member of the Committee for Culture, Media and Sport, has written to the Committee Chair to recommend that Richard Cook, former Vice Chair of the Scottish Conservatives, provides evidence to the Committee’s inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News’.
 
BBC Spotlight Northern Ireland reported the practices of Richard Cook, who is now chairman of the Constitutional Research Council, who helped fund the Leave campaign. It revealed that Cook was behind the DUP’s £435,000 donation during the EU referendum.
 
The SNP has said the revelations added further weight to the need for the Electoral Commission to fully investigate the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, and its possible ties to the Leave campaign and the Scottish Conservatives.
 
SNP MP Pete Wishart has previously written to the Electoral Commission calling for a full investigation, and has urged Ruth Davidson to come clean over the Tories’ dark money in light of news about the Vote Leave campaign.
 
The SNP support giving new powers to the Electoral Commission, to provide them with higher sanctioning powers, increasing the maximum penalty from £20,000 to £1,500,000.
 
The letter to the Committee Chair also follows reports that Scottish Secretary David Mundell failed to declare financial support he received from the Scottish Unionist Association Trust which helped pay for his campaign manager for the last two general elections, at a cost of £3488 in 2015 and £2400 in 2017.
 
Commenting, Brendan O'Hara MP said:
 
"I have called on the DCMS Committee to summon Mr Richard Cook to give evidence to our on-going inquiry into the Vote Leave campaign. It is imperative that we have a full understanding of his role, how the Constitutional Research Council processed £435,000 to the DUP and whether he booked the infamous Metro advertisement for Vote Leave.
 
“A recent BBC Northern Ireland investigation examined Mr Cook’s actions to try to discover exactly how such a large sum of money found its way from the Vote Leave campaign, into the hands of the DUP. Despite the excellent work done by the Spotlight team, I believe there are still many serious, unanswered questions about the source of this money and what it was used for by the DUP in the referendum campaign.
 
"The hallmark of the Committee’s inquiry has been that where we suspect that democracy has been undermined either by giant corporations, state actors, secretive groups or wealthy individuals, we have investigated without fear or favour. On that basis and in light of what has been uncovered by the BBC, I am urging the Committee Chair to summon Mr Richard Cook to give evidence.
 
"Ruth Davidson has failed to come clean about the murky funding of her own party in the wake of these latest developments. She cannot continue hiding away and avoid the calls for clarity over the trail of dark money leading to her door. She has failed to make clear what checks her party had in place before accepting such large donations, with no apparent idea of where the money has come from. Is Richard Cook still a member of her party? Does she know if her party accepted donations from the same donors who gave money to the Constitutional Research Council?
 
"And it has now been reported that David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, has benefited from this 'dark money' to pay for his campaign manager during the past two general elections, yet he has failed to declare this.  

"It's time we had some answers - Richard Cook should help the DCMS Committee with their investigations and provide some much needed clarity on the issue."
 
 
The dark money driving the Scottish Tory surge: https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/brexitinc/adam-ramsay-peter-geoghegan/dark-money-driving-scottish-tory-surge
 
Electoral Commission probes £319,000 Tory ‘dark money’ trust:  https://theferret.scot/secretive-trust-scottish-tories-dark-money/
 
BBC Spotlight: Brexit, Dark Money and the DUP: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-44624299
 
Vote Leave: Brexit campaign 'broke electoral law' in referendum:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-44856992 
 
Letter to Damien Collins MP, DCMS Chair:
 
Dear Damian,
 
As our inquiry into Disinformation and ‘Fake News nears its conclusion, I would strongly recommend that the Committee summon Mr. Richard Cook to give evidence about his role in how the Constitutional Research Council processed £435,000 to the Democratic Unionist Party during the Brexit referendum.
 
A recent BBC Northern Ireland investigation examined Mr Cook’s actions to try to discover exactly how such a large sum of money found its way from the Vote Leave campaign, into the hands of the DUP. Despite the excellent work done by the Spotlight team at BBC Northern Ireland, I believe there are still many serious, unanswered questions about the source of this money and what it was used for by the DUP in the referendum campaign.
 
The hallmark of our inquiry has been that where we suspect that democracy has been undermined either by giant corporations, state actors, secretive groups or wealthy individuals, we have investigated without fear or favour. On that basis and in light of what has been uncovered by the BBC, I urge you, as the Committee Chair to summon Mr Richard Cook to give evidence. Only then will we have a have a full understanding of his role, how the Constitutional Research Council processed £435,000 to the DUP and whether it was he who booked the now infamous Metro advertisement for Vote Leave.
 
I hope you will take this forward and find a timeous date for our Committee to meet with and question Mr. Cook as part of our inquiry.
 
Yours,
 
 
Brendan

Read 1287 times Last modified on Sunday, 05 August 2018 13:06

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