The Times newspaper apologises as media reports imply Scotland Matters links to ‘Dark Money’.
The Times has apologised for stating that we had been “ordered to disclose” the source of a donation (click here). This followed articles in several newspapers including the Guardian and The National implying that Scotland Matters may have received donations from ‘Dark Money’ sources. They also incorrectly stated that two individuals were linked to an organisation that had donated to Scotland Matters during the Holyrood election campaign. The Guardian erroneously identified a “director of a financial services firm in Glasgow” as being a member of Scotland Matters.
The reality is that we are confident that we carried out due diligence as to the identity and eligibility of our donors and have supplied the Electoral Commission (EC) with the required information in our post-election returns on spending and donations. It is the donor who is being contacted by the EC to see if they may have donated more than is permissible without registering. We had not been requested to provide further information. (See below for an explanation of how Scotland Matters is run.)
The National Article credits us with being the Non-Party Campaign Group (NPG) receiving the most money in donations and spending the most during the election. They also admit that the Tactical Voting Campaign mounted by us and other groups denied the SNP a majority. This shows that any donation to Scotland Matters will be used effectively.
Scotland Matters fully supports the media’s efforts to keep the political and electoral process transparent – provided they do so with accurate reporting and apply their investigations fairly across the political and constitutional divide. We thank The Times for acknowledging their error.
How Scotland Matters is run and how your money is spent
Many of you will already be aware that we have no ‘membership’ as such; rather a large number of people who view our website, subscribe to our weekly newsletter and donate to enable our activities.
In order to spend significant sums during the last Holyrood election period, we were required to form an ‘Unincorporated Association’ with a constitution and to name individuals with responsibilities for our activities and Register to comply with Electoral Commission regulations. The ‘Steering Committee’ referred to in the articles is not a fixed group of people.
Whenever we have ideas for activities or significant spending decisions to make we contact a diverse group from across the pro-UK political and social spectrum to discuss what we have in mind before deciding. This keeps us as ‘Grass roots’ as practical and avoids undue influence from any political or pressure group.
Day to day planning and activities are done by a small number of volunteers. We pay several independent individuals to supply IT, artwork and Social Media expertise when required. We also pass on funds to other pro-UK groups who we believe can make effective use of the funds. This is declared as a donation or as ‘joint campaigning’ where appropriate.
Unfortunately, because of the toxic nature of the constitutional debate in Scotland, a number of our donors and supporters prefer to remain anonymous to the public but have provided the information required to the EC where the donations are made during the election period and are above the £500 maximum that can remain anonymous.