BRITAIN’S elections watchdog has fined the Tory group at the centre of a dark money row for failing to report more than £200,000 worth of donations.

The Scottish Unionist Association Trust (SUAT) has received three separate fines from the Electoral Commission. 

One £1300 fine was for failing to notify the Commission of political contributions made as an unincorporated association, and two seperate £250 fines were for failing to report donations as a members association.

The trust, which is required to report donations over £7,500, failed to declare a £50,000 donation on 6 February 2014 and £157,350.07 on 13 March 2017. 

The larger donation came from Ann C Hay, a former secretary to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Association, who died in March 2016.

Since 2001, the trust has donated £350,187.66 to the Tories, £12,424.72 of that in the last quarter of last year.

There have been a number of questions over how the SUAT made its money. 

Because the trust is not registered with Companies House, the Financial Conduct Authority, or OSCR – Scotland’s charity watchdog – there is no public information available about the people who currently manage the organisation, and no public accounts to indicate donors, or assets.

The Commission has said the trust should be considered a “permissible donor to political parties”.

READ MORE: On the trail of the dark money which funds Trump, Davidson and Brexit

Because it’s an unincorporated association, SUAT is required to notify the Commission when it makes political contributions of more than £25,000 in any calendar year within 30 days of the value of contributions reaching that point.

SUAT made political contributions exceeding £25,000 to the Tories in 2010, 2015, 2016, and 2017 but failed to “provide the required notifications within the required timescale”.

Louise Edwards, Director of Regulation at the Commission, said: "The reporting requirements for members associations and unincorporated associations are clear, so it is always disappointing when regulated organisations fail to provide accurate reports on time.

“Properly, SUAT’s donations to the Conservative and Unionist Party were reported by that party and published so the public could see them. But SUAT consistently failed to provide proper notification of its activities as an unincorporated association and as a members association.

"As a result, the public did not have the transparency it was entitled to have of SUAT’s finances. The Commission will continue to enforce these requirements to ensure that voters have the information they need.”

Green MSP Ross Greer said there were questions for Jackson Carlaw's party.  

He said; "The Scottish Tories have been funded by dark money for years. Now this damning Electoral Commission report has been published, they need to urgently explain themselves."

Greer added: "It is frustrating that the fines for this substantial number of violations totalled just a small fraction of the money actually funnelled through SUAT. The Electoral Commission desperately needs the power to deliver substantial fines and other enforcement mechanisms. Otherwise, the flood of dark money which is poisoning our politics will only continue."

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: "This is a matter for the Scottish Unionist Association Trust.

"As the Electoral Commission states, these donations were properly reported by the Conservative party."

Last year SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford left the then Prime Minister Theresa May squirming when he brought up the trust in the House of Commons.

He said the Tories were “systematically shielding their donations from public scrutiny.”

About an hour later, the SUAT released a statement through the PR company of trustee Peter Duncan, a former Tory MP. It revealed that the trust was formed in 1968 from “assets of the (then) Scottish Unionist Association, primarily sales of property assets.”

SUAT added that those assets had been invested and the proceeds were now “available to further the aims of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. It insisted: “All UK taxation liabilities have been and continue to be met in full.”

The SUAT has been approached for comment.