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SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford takes another £3k from Tory millionaire

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (PA Wire)
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford (PA Wire)

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford had his General Election campaign bankrolled by a Tory-donating hedge fund boss.

Mr Blackford received £3000 from multi-millionaire Conservative donor David Craigen ahead of last month’s crunch vote.

The partner at London firm Lansdowne also donated £3000 to Mr Blackford in 2015.

At the time, the Ross, Skye and Lochaber MP said he didn’t know Mr Craigen was “a Tory”.

The latest revelation came in the new MPs’ register of interests, which also showed Tory MPs banked a string of donations from millionaire backers – including a £3000 cheque to Scots Secretary David Mundell from oil firm Vitol.

Critics last night questioned why Mr Blackford was happy to accuse the Tories of “Dickensian policies” while still accepting support from Conservative donors.

Scottish Labour Deputy Leader Alex Rowley said: “It is disappointing but no surprise to see Ian Blackford taking large donations from a Tory hedge fund manager.

“Hedge fund managers can donate to SNP politicians safe in the knowledge that they will continue to talk left in Westminster, and govern right in Holyrood – voting against Labour’s progressive proposals to increase the top rate of income tax to 50p and give our NHS workers a pay rise.”

The latest register of interests showed Mr Craigen donated £3000 to Mr Blackford.

Mr Craigen previously donated £3000 to Mr Blackford, just before the 2015 General Election.

At the time Mr Blackford said he had “no knowledge of him being a Tory” and said they had personal ties from his previous role in the finance sector.

Mr Craigen is a partner in Lansdowne Partners, which manages around £14 billion-worth of assets, and he donated £50,000 to the Tories in 2007, followed by £9000 in 2008.

Mr Blackford has been a fierce critic of the Tories and last year described the party’s controversial bedroom tax as a “Dickensian policy”.

The latest register also showed Scottish Secretary Mr Mundell banked £42,500 in donations over the last year, £28,000 of which came after the General Election was called. A donation of £3000 came from oil-trading giant Vitol Services.

Vitol is run by Ayrshire-born entrepreneur Ian Taylor, who made donations to Better Together in the run-up to the independence referendum.

Elsewhere, banking firm Stalbury Trustees, whose directors include the Marquess of Salisbury, bankrolled four new Scottish Tory MPs.

Douglas Ross, who defeated deputy SNP leader Angus Robertson in the Moray seat, banked a £10,000 donation from the firm.

Tory Stirling MP Stephen Kerr received a £3000 donation from Sir Henry Keswick, whose family interest in travel and property are reported to be worth more than £3 billion.

For the Lib Dems, Edinburgh West MP Christine Jardine accepted a £5000 donation from the More United fund set up in memory of murdered MP Jo Cox.

A spokesman for Mr Blackford said: “This donation will help the SNP stand up for Scotland at Westminster – opposing the Tory government’s callous austerity cuts, and challenging their damaging approach to Brexit.”

The spokesman also accused Labour of “jaw-dropping” hypocrisy because the party had previously taken donations from hedge fund bosses as well.