By a Newsnet reporter
Glasgow MSP James Dornan has become the latest politician to demand the return of a controversial donation made to the Better Together campaign by businessman Ian Taylor.
In a question in the Scottish Parliament Cathcart MSP Mr Dornan urged the anti-independence campaign, headed by Labour MP Alistair darling, to hand back a £500,000 donation from Vitol’s Chief Executive, and has encouraged people to sign a petition organised by the grassroots campaign, National Collective, calling for a fair referendum.
The SNP MSP raised the issue at question time in the Scottish parliament following allegations that Mr Taylor’s company has been involved in deals with unscrupulous individuals and regimes, including the Serbian warlord Arkan, who received $1 million from Mr Taylor’s company.
Amongst the crimes alleged to have been perpetrated by the Serbian war criminal include rape, murder and other inhuman acts.
During Holyrood’s question time, Mr Dornan (pictured) asked Deputy First Minsiter Nicola Sturgeon if she agreed with him that the Better Together campaign must hand back the money pending a full internal investigation.
Ms Sturgeon, Minister responsible for the referendum, said:
"It's not for me to run the No campaign, but I do agree it would be a wise course of action for them to hand back the money pending an internal investigation".
Following the exchange, Mr Dornan said:
"Despite the Better Together campaign’s best attempts to play down the importance of this, the story of the dodgy donation is simply not going away.
"What Better Together have to realise is that calls for them to hand back this donation pending an internal investigation are all about the integrity of Scotland’s referendum."
The Glasgow MSP praised online Scottish Arts group National Collective whose reporter Michael Gray had highlighted the business dealings of Mr Taylor’s company Vitol after Better Together revealed the Tory backer as the biggest donor to their anti-independence campaign.
Since then National Collective has received legal threats from Mr Taylor and his company Vitol. Last week the Arts body responded by launching a petition to the Scottish Parliament calling for an examination of the circumstances surrounding the £500,000 donation.
Mr Dornan added: "I believe that is a somewhat obvious thing that most people would support, and I would encourage anyone, no matter where they are in this debate, to back their calls and sign their petition."
The calls from the Holyrood MSP follow similar questions raised in the House of Commons by SNP MP Angus Robertson who called for a similar donation made by Mr Taylor to the Conservative party to be returned.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Robertson urged the Tory PM David Cameron to return the money to Mr Taylor who he revealed had also dined with Mr Cameron in the Prime Minister’s official residence in Downing Street.
Mr Robertson said: "Mr Taylor’s company Vitol has admitted dealings with the notorious Serbian war criminal Arkan who was indicted for … ‘wilfully causing great suffering, cruel treatment, murder, wilful killing, rape, and other inhuman acts’.
"Will the Prime Minister stop hosting Mr Taylor at Downing Street and give the money back."
The donations from Mr Taylor to the Conservative party have been denounced as "dirty money" by Labour MP John Mann, who has also called on the Conservatives to return the cash.
[Newsnet comment - The donations controversy has rumbled along for fully two weeks, with splits in the Labour party over whether Mr Ian Taylor is an appropriate individual from whom to accept donations. This week the No campaign launched an attack on the SNP plans for a shared currency post-independence, it received what can only be described as wall to wall coverage by the BBC.
At midday today BBC Radio Scotland will broadcast Brian Taylor's Big Debate. Two things to observe are whether the donations story features and whether the currency attack features. It will also be interesting to note the make-up of the panel to see whether there is equal representation for both the pro-Union side and the pro-Independence side.]