LABOUR FORMER FIRST MINISTER DISTANCES HIMSELF FROM 'NO' CAMPAIGN FUNDING

‘NO’ CAMPAIGN ENGULFED IN FRESH REVELATIONS OVER “SHAMEFUL” DONATION

Labour former First Minister Henry McLeish has now voiced his concerns about the £500,000 donation from Ian Taylor, on a day when there is a series of new broadsheet newspaper revelations about the activities of Vitol, the company of which Mr Taylor is president and chief executive.

Mr McLeish told Scotland on Sunday:

“Labour has to be clear about whether this is the type of finance we want in the campaign…We need absolute transparency. We have to be very careful about what kind of money should be used. The unionist campaign has got to respond to legitimate questions and the criticism that’s been put forward.”

No campaign chairman Alistair Darling has insisted the campaign will cling on to the donation, despite the growing controversy.

A number of other newspaper reports today detail extremely concerning reports about the activities of Mr Taylor’s company Vitol around the world.

The Sunday Times carries details of the involvement of Mr Taylor’s company with the Syrian state oil company Sytrol, during the period of the Syrian government's oppression of the people. Also, Steve Murdoch, who was a director of NGO Ship to Bosnia, describes the campaign’s decision to accept the donation as “shameful” and said it should be redistributed to orphans of the victims of Arkan’s murder squads in Croatia and Bosnia. Vitol gave Serbian war criminal Arkan $1 million.

The Sunday Herald reports that Mr Taylor “heads a company with a web of operations in tax havens”, and that two Vitol subsidiaries were fined $6m in 2010 in the US for “wilfully failing to disclose material facts” to the New York Mercantile Exchange for almost two years.

Commenting, SNP Westminster Leader and Defence and Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Angus Robertson said:

“Another day, another set of deeply damaging revelations about the No campaign’s principal donor. Alistair Darling’s refusal to return this donation pending further investigation – and his refusal to outline what he knew of these matters before accepting the money, when he met Mr Taylor – is completely undermining the credibility of the No campaign.

“Labour former First Minister Henry McLeish is absolutely right when he calls for clarity about the type of finance that we want. He is the latest Labour politician to distance himself from Mr Taylor’s donations – Ken Macintosh said he didn’t know anything about it, and Labour MP and Treasury Select Committee member John Mann described his donations to the Tories as ‘dirty money’. If Labour think it is wrong for the Tories to take Mr Taylor's money, how can Alistair Darling - a Labour MP - think it is right for the No campaign?

“Meanwhile, those who worked in the Balkans during the terrible war to help the people are now condemning the No campaign’s decision to accept this money.

“Let’s be absolutely clear – holding on to this £500,000 donation will be much more costly to the No campaign in the long run. This is a serious error of judgement by Alistair Darling - he has to take this opportunity to reverse his position, do the right thing, and hand the money back pending a full investigation by the No campaign."

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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