Cash cover-up by the UUP revealed

The Electoral Commission’s spotlight on money and politics has taken a swing to Belfast with the UUP caught in the beam.

The tale involves a £50,000 donation, a secret account, the little known Unionist Research Group and the 2005 election.

A businessman gave a donation to the UUP in the late 1990’s. This was placed in a secret account not included in the party’s accounts nor were the membership told. Following the establishment of the Electoral Commission the UUP did not disclose the money to them. In 2005, it needed the cash for its ill-fated £250,000 election campaign but it decided not to admit the account to the Electoral Commission. Instead, the Party gave the money to the Unionist Research Group run by David Campbell, its separate business fundraising group, who after removing some costs then paid some Party bills and donated the rest back to the party. This gave the impression it was a new donation.

This seems to have come to light following queries from party officer Basil McCrea and may offer further explanation why Lord Rogan stood down at the recent AGM as he was involved. The fact McCrea refers to hundreds of financial investigations does not inspire confidence nor does this quote from the Lord Maginness of Drumglass:

“If you wanted to give a donation to my party and you didn’t want to be seen to do it and then I channelled it in, would that be a difficulty? It might be in today’s terms but I am not sure it is”

  • I’m surprised to see Basil McCrea probing into the affairs of his own party. It would be nice if a few more politicians could show the same integrity.

  • Beano

    wake up and smell the coffee!!!

    Basil has found an issue to advance himself and denegrade his internal opponents.

    Integrity my arse!

  • You could well be right – I seem to have misplaced my usual cynicism lately.

  • uuper

    Well said, pakman.

    McCrea is a sneaky, opportunistic self-server that I seriously suspect is not a unionist, never mind Ulster Unionist.

  • uuper

    PS, great to read Spender’s eulogy to our forefathers again on you site.

  • fair_deal

    Pakman and uuper

    Ball not man

  • GWB

    upper? Turn your compter off Ken, and if you want to post under a handle, don’t post a sentence you’ve been coming off with for months.

  • upper

    thank you for your kind words.

    Any thoughts on the perhaps relevant “Lordy, lordy, lordy” post?

  • Nevin

    Late 90s? 1998? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the British and/or Irish governments directly or indirectly ‘assisted’ the UUP or other groups with the referendum YES campaign?

  • Garibaldy

    But Nevin, they did. The Women’s Coalition literature for the yes campaign was printed by the NIO.

  • Crataegus

    Why would anyone make a substantial donation to any political party? I know wealth is relative and I can see someone perhaps helping a local campaign with a few thousand but £50,000 is a substantial sum.

    We need to tighten up on political fund raising. If a political party doesn’t have a support base large enough to pay for the costs out of normal donations then one really has to ask why we should allow a situation where they are beholding to a wealthy donator. We need an end to donations from Trade Unions and businessmen and if political parties have to cut their cloth more carefully fine.

    There is another problem for democracy to be fair and as open as possible to all we need to ask what are suitable levels of election expenditure, both for political parties, and individual candidates? Some of the expenditure is just silly and if a little tighter perhaps we would see a more flair, more door stepping and less wall to wall full colour posters.

    Why should an independent be at a disadvantage because they have no Party expenditure to shore up their campaign?