Tory donor row raises referendum questions

Responding to a statement by the UK Government on party funding Angus MacNeil, the SNP MP who sparked the cash for honours inquiry, said the scandal underlined why Westminster must not be allowed to pull the strings on Scotland’s independence referendum.

Revelations in the Sunday Times show Mr Cruddas was willing to discuss accepting political donations with persons purporting to represent an overseas wealth fund - which are prohibited by law from making a donation to political parties in the UK. In an exchange with Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude, Mr MacNeil asked if the police should investigate whether any criminal offence has been committed.

In the meeting with undercover journalists Mr Cruddas, who had partly funded the Tories campaign on the AV referendum, also revealed that he had discussed the Scottish referendum with David Cameron, reportedly referring to First Minister Alex Salmond in derogatory terms.

Mr MacNeil said:

“The revelations around Mr Cruddas show that the Tories were apparently willing to discuss accepting donations from an overseas wealth fund based in Liechtenstein – something which is against the law.

“The revelations around Mr Cruddas also demonstrate why Westminster cannot be trusted when it comes to running Scotland’s referendum. The Tories fundraiser was the man who financed the anti-AV campaign, and was already lining up with David Cameron against the Scottish referendum.

“The tightest rules on spending must be set in Scotland by the Scottish Parliament. Otherwise we will find Tories like Peter Cruddas raising money from Liechtenstein to attempt to buy the poll.

“Westminster has been left totally discredited - from cash for honours, to the expenses scandal and now cash for access, there has been a deep decline in standards that has left voters disenfranchised and disheartened with Westminster politics.

“We should tell David Cameron to keep the Tory Party's hands off Scotland's referendum.”