Spy and football chief fund battle to stop independence

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A former spy, a war zone security chief and the Arsenal chairman are among donors who have handed over more than £1.6 million to Better Together.

Latest details of donations to the pro-Union campaign show it has banked £1.64m since April, adding to the £1.1m war chest it had amassed since its launch in June last year.

The bulk of the cash raised in the last eight months came from 19 “big ticket” donations raising a total of £1.3m, including donations from a banker at the heart of the Barings collapse, the chairman of accountancy giant Deloitte and a former advisor to Better Together leader Alistair Darling when he was Chancellor.

A breakdown of donations reveals Tory donor and chairman of Premiership giants Arsenal Sir “Chips” Keswick has handed over £23,000.

Former MI6 officer Keith Craig, chief executive of corporate spooks firm Hakluyt, has given £10,000.

Hakluyt has been described as a “retirement home for ex-MI6 officers” and has faced allegations that it spied on environmental campaigners for oil giants including Shell and BP.

Borders wind farm developer Christopher Wilkins, who was the “founding chairman and architect” of Hakluyt has also donated £10,000.

Another donor with an intelligence background is Simon Crane, managing director of private security firm, Edinburgh International (EI), who has donated £15,000.

The London-based firm became embroiled in a row in the US in 2010 over claims that development cash had made its way to Taliban insurgents in Afghanistan but was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

Investment banker and Tory donor Andrew Fraser has handed over £200,000 to Better Together.

Mr Fraser was head of equities at Barings’ Bank when it collapsed in 1995 after trader Nick Leeson racked up £800m losses on the stock market.

The subsequent investigation produced a letter written to Mr Fraser three years prior to the collapse voicing concerns about the concentration of power in the Singapore operations where Mr Leeson was about to start working.

The biggest donation came from Highland renewables and engineering entrepreneur, Donald Houston, who has given more than £100,000 personally and a further £500,000 through his companies.

Blair McDougall, Better Together Campaign Director, last night paid tribute to the 17,000 people who have donated to the group since April.

He said: “We are humbled by the number of supporters who have made a contribution.

“Even in tough economic conditions thousands of people are playing their part in keeping Scotland a strong part of the United Kingdom.

“However, we know the money that we have managed to raise ourselves is dwarfed by the almost limitless funds available to the nationalists.

“Alex Salmond has shown he is willing to spend hundreds of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on propaganda for his independence campaign.”

Among other high profile names on the donor list are the chairman of accountancy giant Deloitte, David Cruickshank, who has handed over £10,000 in a personal capacity.

A further £50,000 has come from Ivor Dunbar, former head of global capital markets at Deutsche Bank.

The Scot was part of a team of bankers who advised the Government and the then Chancellor Alistair Darling about the financial crisis.

Crime writer CJ Sansom has donated £133,000, and former Inverness Caledonian Thistle FC chairman and engineering entrepreneur, Alan Savage, has handed over £150,000.

Other donors of five-figure sums include investment banker and philanthropist Alan McFarlane.

The single biggest benefactor in the last tranche of donations was Scots oil trader, Ian Taylor, who gave £500,000, but the Tory donor has not given money this time.

Mr Taylor’s donation was questioned by critics because of controversy over some of his company’s past business dealings

Yes Scotland last gave an update on its donations in April when the group revealed it had banked £1.7m, including £1m from Ayrshire lottery winners Christine and Colin Weir.

The pro-independence group has previously said it will update its donor list when Better Together does.

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