Scottish Unionist Association Trust fined for failing to properly declare donations
A Scottish trust which donated thousands of pounds to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party has been fined by the Electoral Commission for failing to properly declare its donations.
The Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT) has received three separate fines totalling £1,800 for “failing to notify the commission of political contributions made as an unincorporated association” and failing to report donations as a members’ association.
SUAT made contributions exceeding £25,000 to the Conservative and Unionist Party in 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2017, but had “failed to provide the required notifications within the required timescale”, the commission said.
As an unincorporated association, the commission said SUAT was “required to notify the commission when it makes political contributions of more than £25,000 in any calendar year within 30 days of the value of contributions reaching that point”.
The commission said SUAT also accepted two donations which it failed to report on time: £50,000 on 6 February 2014, and £157,350.07 on 13 March 2017. As a member organisation SUAT was required to report donations it received that were over £7,500.
Donations it made to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party were properly reported by the party, the commission said. It said the findings had been accepted by SUAT and the fines were paid in August this year.
Electoral Commission director of regulation Louise Edwards said it was “always disappointing when regulated organisations fail to provide accurate reports on time”.
“Properly, SUAT’s donations to the Conservative and Unionist Party were reported by that party and published so the public could see them,” she said.
“But SUAT consistently failed to provide proper notification of its activities as an unincorporated association and as a members association.
“As a result, the public did not have the transparency it was entitled to have of SUAT’s finances.
“The commission will continue to enforce these requirements to ensure that voters have the information they need.”
SNP MP Pete Wishart said he reported SUAT to the commission last year “over mounting concerns over the links between the trust and the Scottish Tory party”.
A Scottish Conservatives spokesperson responded: “This is a matter for the Scottish Unionist Association Trust. As the Electoral Commission states, these donations were properly reported by the Conservative party.”
In September last year, the Irvine Unionist Club was fined by the commission for failing to register as a party donor before it donated £100,000 to the Scottish Conservatives.