Former Tory MP stands down from the trust at the centre of the ‘dark money’ scandal

ten pound notes hanging on a washing line
Brian Finlay

Former Conservative MP and shadow secretary of state for Scotland Peter Duncan has resigned as a trustee for the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT). It’s the trust at the centre of the Scottish Conservatives’ ‘dark money’ scandal. The Ferret originally [paywall] reported the allegations on 26 June. Duncan quit after he was “outed [paywall]” as a lobbyist of the Scottish Tories whilst a trustee of SUAT.

SUAT is under scrutiny because it has reportedly [paywall] given the Scottish Tories nearly £319,000 since 2001. The “permissibility” of the donations is under investigation by the Electoral Commission.

The trustee, the lobbyist

The BBC reported that Duncan resigned on 19 July. The Ferret revealed his lobbying of the Scottish Tory MSPs on the same day. Rob Edwards, a journalist for the Ferret, was quoted by the BBC saying it was “very interesting” because he chose to resign the same day he was outed as a lobbyist.

As reported by the Ferret, Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie said:

Resigning from the SUAT was the right thing to do, it’s just a shame that it took sustained media scrutiny for Peter Duncan to make a choice. Those remaining trustees must do everything they can to ensure there are no obstacles to the Electoral Commission’s investigation.

On 19 July, Harvie had called on [paywall] Duncan to choose between his roles as a lobbyist and a SUAT trustee.

Tombolas and Raffles

Duncan appeared on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland on 29 July. He was questioned about ‘dark money’ because of his connections with SUAT and his lobbying of the Scottish Tory MSPs. He defended the “permissibility” of the SUAT donations to the Scottish Conservatives:

I was satisfied, and remain satisfied, that the trust is a permissible donor and that this is in no way dark money

Moreover, Duncan has claimed that the trusts funds are “historic proceeds of tombolas and raffles” dating back 50 years.

He went on to explain the financial history of the SUAT funds:

They were transferred into a trust with the express purpose, not of spending it, but actually investing it long-term. And that’s what the trust has done since about the time I was born. It has invested that money with the objective of growing its capital base and making some of the proceeds available on a semi-regular basis to the party’s campaigns.

What does Twitter think?

Scottish Tories have been pretty quiet on social media about the ‘dark money’ allegations. So voters have taken to Twitter to express their opinions:

It would appear some Twitter users need more convincing due to lack of engagement from elected members. So Scottish Tories, the ball’s in your court. It’s time to be transparent about the alleged ‘dark money’, because the voters deserve some answers.

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