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.

Related article:

[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.]


2013-04-26 07:39

The Tory/No camp should not be accepting dodgy donations.
2013-04-26 08:48


Nasty headline yet again in the Herald
today as follows – “Pensions time bomb fear if Scots back independence” No need to name the writer.

It appears that no comments are being allowed on this one at least at 08.45am thus using the old dirty trick for many readers who will only look at the headline and perhaps be influenced.
2013-04-26 10:11

Master Johnson of the DT has the same article. I have not yet looked at both to see if it is a copy and paste job.
2013-04-26 20:10

The “pensions time bomb” facing the UK is actually a strong argument in favour of an independent Scotland. It is good that this is being talked about. People need to know how the UKs desire to constantly be at the “top table”is consuming vast sums of tax payers money.

Scotland can get itself outside of this downward financial spiral.

I am also surprised why no one picks up on UK national insurance contributions being 12% yet Scotland having a notable and long term lower life expectancy. An average working Scot is basically subsidising their southern neighbours.

2013-04-26 08:55

How can this be right in any sense of the word? How can better together accept a donation from a man whose company has had dealings with a genocidal murderer? A company dealing with a list of regimes which reads like a who’s who of the worlds most wanted. How can they say these are the sort of people they want associated with Scotland’s constitutional future?

Perhaps the obvious answer lies with the ethics and morality of better together’s leadership and the institution to which they would have us tied… That must be it.
2013-04-26 09:11

Vitol have had dodgy dealings in all the trouble spots – The Balkans, Iraq, Iran, Afganistan, and now Syria.
There is a lot more going on with this lot under the surface.
Who is really controlling them?

2013-04-26 09:18

Spot on, Macart.

But you know this entire anti-Independence scenario looks increasingly like the campaign tactics used to secure the Union in 1706-07.

Fear, smear, lies and bribery.
Anyone spotted an army gathering across the border?
2013-04-26 10:09

@Macart: Perhaps the obvious answer lies with the ethics and morality of better together’s leadership and the institution to which they would have us tied… That must be it.

But Ms Lamont tells us that BT Head Alistair Darling is an absolute model of probity and integrity, and apparently no-one in Scotland could possibly dispute that.

House flipping aside, of course.
2013-04-26 13:26

Let’s not forget we’ve still to see the back end of the LIBOR investigations. Who knew what and when within the Labour govt. Now let me see, who might the likely suspects have been greasing the wheels of the finance industry? That would have been Brown, Darling and Balls at the time wouldn’t it?

Yep a model of probity and integrity right enough.
2013-04-26 14:29

And let us not forget that this paragon of virtue, aka A Darling, set up the deal to obtain the £500,000 contribution to the Bitter people from Ian Taylor, CEO of Vitol the Company criminally convicted in the USA, and friend/employer of Arkan a Serbian career criminal murderer and war criminal. Some paragon some virtue.

2013-04-26 10:53

To Arraniki and others with similar views.

Anyone spotted an army gathering across the border?

I am fed up reading stupid scaremongering comments like this, they only make Independence supporters look stupid.

And while we are at it, it’s about time we stopped using the grating, “too wee, too poor, too stupid,” nonsense as well. It does nothing now except demean Scots.

2013-04-26 11:07

I take it that you don’t have a sense of humour!

It’s actually the No campaign who peddle these
threats and scare stories every day. Anything to run Scotland down.

2013-04-26 10:54

With 200 Westminster MPs and Lords (including 37 Labour Peers) having involvement in Private Health Care companies, and passing the laws in England to privatise the NHS there, we can no longer be surprised by morally bankrupt and corrupting behaviour from these people.
But we do need to hammer them when we see this behaviour.
2013-04-26 12:10

At midday today BBC Radio Scotland will broadcast Brian Taylor’s Big Debate.

Tory Ferguson.
Labour Murry
SNP McAlpine
and another Unionist Hamish Macdonell
says it all.
2013-04-26 16:53

Though the audience was almost all pro or sympathetic to Independence. It shows how out of touch or desperately trying to cling to the old agenda some of the politicians are. McAlpine did very well.
However the way the other woman was talking about more Devolution suggest people in Scotland really need to understand how shaky the legal basis of Devolution is. It can be voted out of existence. It is about the powers retained in Westminster not power settled in Holyrood.

2013-04-26 12:13


We may refer to gun boats or armies in humour .

However the use of media / cyber attacks / religious divide /promise of reward / statistics etc are all modern versions or upgrades of the techniques used before.

The humour or sarcasm is used to highlight the fact that the unionist mindset has not changed in 300years – only the weapons.

If you don’t think too wee / too poor and too stupid reflects the NO campaign then I am surprised.
2013-04-26 13:45

I don’t care if it reflects on the NO campaign, it is a derogatory, silly, statement whoever uses it.
2013-04-26 14:09

Speaking of gun boats…

We saw an unusual looking (and very fast) boat while in Skye last week. It was part of the NATO “Joint Warrior” war games. You can see a picture of it on the last slide in this BBC slideshow.…/…

It turns out that is is one of SIX Norwegian stealth missile boats.

What I’d like to know is how can a poor wee country like Norway afford such things in it’s navy while we are told that Scotland couldn’t afford to have a rowing boat armed with an air-rifle if it were independent?

I don’t think we are being told the truth!
2013-04-26 19:51

I don’t know how many of the stealth boats they have, but the Norwegians make no attempt to hide them in harbour. Last month in Tromsø, near the Arctic museum, I saw two – possibly the two in the BBC photo getting ready for the games.

2013-04-26 13:44

Listened to Big Debate. As anticipated no questions re Donation were included. Pensions were, of course.
Interestingly, at one point BT was questioned by someone in audience about the balance of the panel and suggesting it was unfair. BT replied that “we are not discussiong Independence” and moved on quite rudely.
Now, up to that point the only questions discussed were pensions and currency and their relevance to Independence.
One could accuse Taylor of lying as he had fore knowledge of the “planted” questions.
It is quite disgraceful that he continues to get away with this behaviour. I would say that he was, as usual, guilty of spurious interruptions to Joan MacAlpine and thus preventing her complete her points.
I think if NNS has a listen there could be grounds for a serious complaint.
2013-04-26 14:19

I listened as well and agree with all you say,I liked the person who was speaking about Denmark saying if they can do it why not Scotland,as for the balance we will never get that from the BBC.
2013-04-26 15:48


“ I listened as well and agree with all you say,I liked the person who was speaking about Denmark saying if they can do it why not Scotland,as for the balance we will never get that from the BBC. “

Aye RTP, I agree the BBC and their WMD (Weapons of Mass Deception).

call me dave
2013-04-26 19:33

Heard almost all of the big debate on my way to Oban.
The agenda was as expected, as was the makeup of the panel.
But the debate and the general reaction of the audience was heartening. All the scare stories were shot down and even Ferguson agreed at the outset the story re: Scottish banknotes did more harm to the NO’s than it did for the YES’s.
McAlpine played a good all round game. At one point I heard McDonald ( I think) mention that if Scotland was to get into negotiations with the Scandinavians about a currency union then George Osb would be begging to get Scotland back to the table again.

The spectre of ‘jam tomorrow’ hovered round the edges and nudge-nudge, if there is a NO vote then , of course Scotland will get more powers.

Brian did not get the debate going his way by any means, he’ll be up on a charge next week for dereliction of duty .

2013-04-26 18:11

o/t but Scottish news in ITV
the better together brigade have just scored a beautiful own goal,
the new fear story is that Scotland would be in breach of EU rules the minute we gain independence due to a “black hole in pension funds of 66 billion, and cross border pensions have to be fully funded under EU law, but wait a minute doesn’t that assume our continued membership of the EU? the very same EU we will be unceremoniously dumped out of the second we become independent and will wait 9 years for reentry?

you couldnt make it up, well you could if your better together!
2013-04-26 19:59

Pace Jamieson

My reference to the striking similarities in the tactics used by the pro Union side in the early 1700s to secure the Union in 1706-07, with those of today’s BT propagandists, was a considered point.

A reading of the historical sources will reveal that as well as the economic threats used to get the Scots to the negotiating table
to discuss the terms of union,there was also
a threatened invasion by a large English army on the border in 1704 and the prospect of defeat with even worse terms.

Perhaps Jamieson did not know that and missed the irony.
2013-04-27 11:03

I think an Army of 50,000 (enormous for the time)was waiting at Carlisle, commanded by Marlborough. Scotland had no standing army only a militia of some 10,000.

I also believe Marlborough’s orders were going to be to “put all to the sword”.

Jamieson is right – westmonster has always had the people of Scotland’s interests at heart. And we should stop making fun of them.

Are we too wee,poor and stupid to see through the BBC and demand fair and balanced reporting ?. See you at the march.

2013-04-26 22:32

Suprisingly (or not) the BBC have removed the pensions story from the web site, Perhaps too many people were reading the detail, which was a series of questions and didn’t really fit with the headline.

On the subject of headlines, just saw the following

Pernod Ricard: Scotch whisky sales ‘decelerate’

On reading the article, I found the following

Overall, Pernod Ricard’s consolidated net sales totalled 6.65bn euros (£5.62bn) for the nine months to 31 March – a rise of 5%.

That’s the kind of deceleration we like to see.

O/T Just seen the wonderful headline

Scotland’s Lamont forced to retire

Unfortunately, on reading the article, I found it wasn’t Johann.
2013-04-27 00:05

A-W: Don’t wish for the removal of one of the nationalists best recruiters – The delightful and pretty Johann Lamont or is it Moan and Lament. She must be worth a fair few votes to the YES campaign.

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