DUP received £425k for the Brexit referendum

The wait is over and we now know how much the DUP received during the Brexit referendum and just who donated.

RTE reports that;

The Democratic Unionist Party has confirmed that it received £425,000 from a group of business people led by a Scottish Conservative party member and passed it on to help fund the UK pro-Brexit campaign.

The money was used to help finance an advertising campaign in Britain during the EU referendum.

The money was given to the DUP by the Constitutional Research Council, which is chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

This group the Constitutional Research Council is reported to be making moves to oppose a second Scottish referendum 

, ,

  • mickfealty

    A veritable pan unionist front? Adrian Rutherford has more detail in the BelTel (https://goo.gl/38R9fx):

    Very little is known about CRC, the size and make-up of its membership, or its previous links to the DUP or Northern Ireland politics. Searches online produce nothing of substance.

    Mr Cook is a prominent figure in Scottish Conservative circles, having stood as a parliamentary candidate in several elections. In the 2010 general election he contested the Westminster seat of East Renfrewshire.

    He polled 15,567 votes, finishing second to Jim Murphy, who went on to serve as the Scottish Labour leader between December 2014 and June 2015.

    Mr Cook was formerly chief executive of Cook Consulting (UK) Ltd. According to Companies House records, Cook Consulting (UK) Ltd was dissolved in June 2015.

    In 2012 the firm made national headlines after signing agreements to deliver environmental projects in Karachi worth nearly $1bn (£640m).

  • Jag

    The key part of this story is, the Scottish conservatives channelled (some might say “laundered”) a donation through a Northern Ireland political party in order to keep the source of the donation secret because (uniquely across the UK) in NI, the identity of political donors is legally confidential because of security fears and the risk that donors could be physically attacked. Why are the donors just now revealing themselves? Possibly because the betting was, the Brexit vote would fail.

    If Putin wants to change the UK’s attitude to Ukraine, he could donate a few mill to, say Sinn Fein, which could fund an army of sandwich boardmen walking up and down outside Westminster advertising what a corrupt shower the west Ukraine govt is.

    In 2017, is there seriously a more substantial risk to the security of donors in Ulster than there is in say, Scotland or northern England.

  • Campbell Killick

    So the money came from a group of unnamed people led by an unnamed person. That clears it up!

  • Jag

    Did the DUP simply launder the donation, ie they received £425,000 and then spent 100% of that on advertisements in London? Or, did they hold onto a “service fee”?

  • Korhomme

    So the DUP gets a donation from a Scottish group that we’ve never heard of to fund a campaign in England? Are we to understand that the DUP thought they had more leverage in England than in NI? And is this why they keep on about the referendum vote being a UK one, and refusing to accept the results in Scotland and NI?

  • Conchúr Ó Conghaile

    There’s a delicious irony about a ‘Unionist’ group funding something that will do more to undermine the union than any event since 1707.

  • Jag

    Interesting that the donation wasn’t channelled through the obvious political party championing Brexit across the UK – UKIP. But, is UKIP separately registered in NI allowing donations to the NI branch to be kept secret?

  • aquifer

    Holy crap, the D U P just blew up the Union with Europe and made a United Ireland more likely.

    This “me too” little Englander stuff has got us in deep doo doo.

  • Nevin

    Mick, it does seem small beer compared to the £10 million of tax-payers money spent on ‘remoaning’.

  • Cea Hare

    So, is this the same group that funded those ridiculous “£350 million for NHS” poster hanging around some NI shopping centres?

  • Spike

    It would be very interesting to see what other ‘research centres’ have provided large funds to NI parties in the past 10 years. Regardless of your politics, it seems any ‘research centre’ has the possibility to ‘buy’ a NI political party. As Nelson alluded to yesterday, it would seem the DUP would accept anything (even catastrophic consequences to living standards of NI people) so long as it protects the union. Is there a difference in nationalists and hard core unionist voters in the North? – one side prepared to sit within the union with the aspiration of a united Ireland so long as they can enjoy a somewhat normal existence, would hard core Unionists would sacrifice everything to protect the union at any cost?. The big question is what is ‘everything’?

  • Charlie Farlie

    Is there any information, apart from the £250,000 spent on metro, as to what proportion was spent on advertising and what went into the DUP party itself? I would love to know as a tax payer how open to bribery**our political parties are to push any old agenda, even if it proves to be an economic disaster for their own region.

    **basing this assertion on the claims made last week by a Brexit lobbyist that the DUP actually approached him and requested £30,000 per week to push agenda.

  • mickfealty

    Electoral Commission I think is publishing that today.

  • Nevin

    A neat little return of serve/whataboutery by the DUP:


  • burnboilerburn

    You read my mind. It will be interesting to discover the absolute detail here.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    I’ll take “service fee”. It’s a cert

  • Nevin

    It’s on-line, Mick.

  • Dan

    Whatever was spent on getting us out of the EU, it worked.

  • I sense a lot of the little green monster motivating a lot of comment around this issue.
    The DUP is very influential in Westminster, has a high profile around the UK with many supporters and admirers around the world and it is not in anyway surprising that a unionist political party of the DUP’s standing get’s support from a pro-unionist group in the UK. The DUP have always been opposed to the EU and the UK being a member they are not “Jonny come lately” brexiteers and anyone with a basic knowledge of the political history of this part of the UK will know that. The story has been got up by SF and their friends in the BBC to try to deflect attention from the problems SF has with internal party disputes and the long history of illegal activity emanating from Irish republicanism.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    £425K stated on the link you provided there Nevin. Would be interesting to see where the other £175K went if the Metro ad cost £250K

  • If you took the time to read the article the group is named and its previous activity as well as it’s chairman and its aims

  • some might say “laundered” …. maybe you have too much experience of SF fund raising activity, their leader’s cousin was recently in a spot of bother such activity but this comment of your is just plain and simple muck raking

  • Nevin

    Ciaran, according to Jeffrey Donaldson, some of it went on T-shirts.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    To be fair Darrell, that’s a bit of wishful thinking on your part I think. I’d be interested to know who their admirers and supporters around the world are as the impression I, and many others, have always had is that they don’t have many. I’m pretty sure that illegal activity has emanated from the DUP also, Ulster Resistance springing to mind right away

  • Gaygael

    Key question. Has it been asked?

  • mickfealty

    Where’s the detail Nev? That only tells us what we already knew.

  • mickfealty

    How, exactly, does a party “launder” its own donations?

  • mickfealty

    Keep what secret, exactly Jag?

  • mickfealty

    Nevertheless, he has a point.

  • mickfealty

    Well, it cannot have been Research Services Ireland, since they no longer exist. 😉

  • mickfealty

    Not really. There were huge tensions between Vote Leave and Leave EU. The whole point of the former was to sideline and destroy the latter (and its chief mover Aaron Banks, the source of that 30k a week line about the DUP).

  • Nevin

    Mick, the EC report has just been published today. Bob Posner names those bodies that didn’t fulfil EC requirements so, presumably, it was satisfied with the DUP audited returns.

  • Jag

    Simples, Mick.

    Individual A who wants to remain anonymous but wants to financially support a political message in London, donates £425,000 to political party in NI (knowing the donation will not need to be declared) and the political party in NI spends the money (or the money less a service fee, has anyone asked the DUP) on adverts in London. And the original source of the donation remains anonymous (and, despite all this news about the impressively sounding “Constitutional Research Council” – were they taking lessons from the UPRG?!), the precise donors still haven’t been revealed.

    Do you want me to draw you a diagram.

  • Nevin

    RSI has only recently been dissolved, Mick. It was in dormant mode in the run-up to the EU referendum and several months afterwards.

  • Jag

    “Just word of warning. When someone goes to the trouble of writing a blog post, can you have decency to *stay on topic* and refrain from playing the man rather than the ball. Otherwise you will find your work deleted, and you may run the risk of getting permanently excluded from the site. Remember: “invisible people have invisible rights”*”

  • Jag

    Oops, did I miss the revelation of the source(s) of the original donation? I read something about a group and one of its representatives, but can’t remember seeing who exactly was ponying up the money in the first place. If you have the names of the people who funded the CRC, then I suppose the source isn’t secret any more. But if you can’t….

  • Concubhar O Liathain

    That may be the case Darrell but it seems to me that the primary reason the DUP received such a large donation was because of the rules regarding the secrecy of donations and donors being secret in NI as opposed to Scotland, Wales and England. What they should have foreseen but didn’t was that the very size of the donation and how it was used wrt the wraparound on the Metro would draw attention making it impossible to keep the donation secret. It’s another one of those DUP doh! moments, up there with Red Sky, NAMA, RHI and Líofa. These people are just not up to the task of government….

  • There was no attempt to hide it in fact if they missed a trick it was to not exploit the fact that they were entrusted with the funds to do the work on behalf of the leave campaign. It may have missed you but the party is very highly regarded by unionists throughout the UK and this is not really capitalised on very much. I would dispute your interpretation of the other issues and the way in the anti- DUP media have handled but I have to work

  • rg

    Pathetic. Everyone howled that the donor was not named. Could it be the Russians? Could it be some far right neo Nazi group? Could it be aliens?

    No, just a Conservative Brexit supporting organisation who campaigned successfully against the EU.
    Nothing to see here peeps.Move on.
    No, of course you can’t. Drone on and on and on both something else now.

    Didn’t come from fuel laundering, bank raids, or a foreign country did it?
    Nobody would do that would they? Or would they?

  • burnboilerburn

    I have no idea.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Genuine question here Darrell. If the DUP are indeed that highly thought of throughout the UK, then why weren’t they invited to the live televised debates before the last Westminster election?

  • mickfealty

    Now it is out in the open, it’s hardly beyond the wit of the press to go after that particular question via Companys House or the Charities Commission.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Personally, I’ve heard very little actual support voiced for the DUP when I’m visiting London and mix with the “Great and Good.” The UUP is getting a considerable spurt of Conservative interest presently as it changes its approach to a more recognisable set of principals in the eyes of most English Conservatives, but that apparent effort of the DUP to cash in on a possible role as an “add on” block vote for a Tory majority was a notably uncomfortable reminder of how vulnerable a close vote might have made Cameron’s government to such unwelcome pressure. “Real Politick” and all that, but it served to show most thinking people south of Watford just how sizable a gap actually exists between the mindset of the DUP and of those Tories who are electing to live in the modern world.

  • Jag

    CRC is not an incorporated company (in the UK, according to Companies House). I can’t see a website for it, what makes you think it’s a charity? Adding “council” to a name doesn’t formalise it anywhere either.

    It’s as if you and I were to set up, I don’t know, the Justice League. We wouldn’t have to file accounts Mick!

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    Oh but there is something to see here rg:


    “seeking further details in relation to certain payments”

    I like a flutter on the football on a Saturday. I’ve a free £10 bet in my SkyBet account. I’d be willing to put that on the “certain payments” in question being DUP related. They’re money mad, stupid mad, in that party

  • Lionel Hutz

    I wonder if the Scottish conservative party is happy to be associated with the DUP. This would appear to be mostly an issue for them. Not the DUP

  • anon
  • Nevin

    Sharpie, it seems quite apt – seeing that you missed the £10 million of tax-payers money.

  • Nevin

    The £10 million of tax-payers money doesn’t rate a mention in the EC report yet it’s a very significant figure in relation to the other figures mentioned.

    Getting in a lather about outlandish claims by the proponents of either case IMO is a little, er, ‘childish’.

  • Nevin

    Perhaps Soopa Doopa will rebrand as Supa Dupa!

    AggregateiQ website

  • WindowLean

    Would fit on a keyring nicely!

  • Nevin

    Calm down dear. I wasn’t swayed by the proponents of either case. I don’t think the interventions by Juncker and President Obama did Cameron’s government remain campaign any favours.

  • Nevin

    Condescension, how are you!

  • StevieG

    Hold on…this is totally scandalous, and you clearly seem to not want to draw any attention to it. A local party, representing only NI constituents (who as a group voted to remain) in direct contrast to the local party, takes funds in secret and spends it in the UK on an issue that can only bring at least 15 years of detriment to NI! Who are they representing? Seems to be a very small defined over-riding self interest here under the pretence of some greater national issue, and with recent issues, completely to form as of late for the DUP. The arrogance, deliberate obtuseness and opaqueness is verging on the disgusting as a (non) representative party.

  • mac tire

    More of an information page (if it can even be called that) than a website. The only link on it is an email address.

  • Patrick Dobbin

    No one has heard of them and I think that is what some people expected. I don’t think anyone thought nazis or russians. ‘A conservative brexit’ insinuates a donor but crc is not one person and they weren’t known to people as a group campaigning to leave the eu. They and others are claiming they donated, (conveniently using secrecy clauses in N. IRE) , because official campaigns reached a limit. Did they attempt to donate to them before?

  • rg

    More fake news. You and I both know there is nothing there, as will be proved in due course.

    Spend a bit of time analysis where nationalist parties get their funding from. Not interested? Didn’t think so.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa
  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    The image the DUP have over here, as far as I am aware, is that of a bunch of Bible-bashing, sash-waving stubborn, blinkered and foot-dragging ‘die-in-the-ditchers’. But then I’m not a Unionist.

  • mac tire
  • Pete

    I strongly supported remain, but I don’t really understand the controversy here.

    It was a UK wide referendum. The DUP is fit to campaign as it chooses.

  • Ciaran O’Neill

    The controversy is that they were given money – almost half a million – by a seemingly secretive group with alleged links to the Saudi intelligence services. These are the people who pontificate to us almost daily on morality

  • aquifer

    Yep, come the border poll, any Brit wanting an EU passport just has to come over and vote to get one. And that when the Irish economy could be doing much better than Britain, with or without the missing £350m.

  • aquifer

    So what legal persons, individuals or companies gave CRC the money? Some speculators made a lot out of Brexit, and non-EU countries had their own geo-political axe to grind, we should be told the full story.

  • aquifer

    Links to Saudi Arabia!? Wow and thanks for all the extra weirdness.

  • eireanne3

    the SNP is not pleased.
    The SNP responded to the news about the pro-Brexit group demanding transparency about its donors and any plans to oppose independence.
    Commenting on the activities of the CRC, SNP MSP James Dornan said: “This is a staggering revelation. This shadowy group exploited a loophole to anonymously fund a campaign that now threatens to drag Scotland out of Europe against our will – and they did this purely as they believed it would be bad for independence.
    “Now they’re promising to bankroll the anti-independence campaign in any future referendum. Unfortunately for them, they won’t be able to funnel money through Northern Irish politicians to remain anonymous. But any future anti-independence campaign will be tainted by being bankrolled by a group who deliberately undermined Scotland’s interests and long-term economic wellbeing to defend the union at all costs.”


  • Campbell Killick

    To be accurate the article names a fronting organisation. I am no clearer where the money came from. Maybe you could shed some light.

  • Jag

    According to the Irish News, the DUP retained £9,000 of the donation. So, the “service fee” was just over 2%. Very reasonable and good value – money launderers usually charge 10%+.


  • Jag

    I don’t know the original donors Aquifer, but I have my eyes on Paddy Power!

  • Campbell Killick

    I’m willing to accept a wee bit of incompetence and even the occasional greedy politician but unless we are convinced otherwise we can only presume the handling of dark money was calculated for political gain and sanctioned from the top

  • grumpy oul man

    Go dead cat. That will make everything go away.
    We dont know where the CRC got the money from it could be a foriegn goverment or any of the other things you mentioned but shout THEMMUNS and it will be all right.

  • You should get your nose out the left wing liberal tripe printed by the Guardian and realise that there a lot of people outside your elitist sheltered bubble. Of course there are a wide range of views about the DUP and many other parties, enough to fill a book but among Northern Ireland unionists parties the DUP have the largest team at Westminster , the highest profile in the public’s eye and are the only meaningful NI party supporting and they have been consistently anti – EU from its inception. There was a lot more money spent by the remoaners on the referendum including millions plundered by Cameron from the taxpayers and they still lost. Obviously the money raised and spent through the DUP was well spent and clearly accounted for, the rest of the parties in NI didnt even have the wit to register as part of the remain campaign but still spent money probably illegally on a campaign which they were not legally part of.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    A load of bluster wont change the image – or the facts. PS “Remoaner” sort of gives the game away – along with all the rest of the propaganda. PPS I detest the Guardian probably more than you do.

  • grumpy oul man

    Really. Now i would never have thought they were so respected.
    Could you be just exaggerating just a little.
    How many english people could even tell you what DUP means.
    I suppose internationally there ust be someone admires them but never seem to hear a lot from them.
    Some names please.

  • Tessa

    Hurrah another game of Brexit bingo

    Liberal, tick
    left wing, tick
    elitist, tick
    bubble, tick
    remoaners, tick
    guardian, tick
    Need Metropolitan for a full house
    I am waiting ….. like a coiled spring

  • Bad losers etc etc.

  • BonaparteOCoonassa

    I would imagine that if anyone lives in an elitist sheltered bubble it is the DUP. But their bubble has been burst now.