SCOTTISH Tories received donations worth more than £20,000 from a shadowy “dark money” group in the run up to last year’s election.

According to the latest release of figures from the Electoral Commission, the Scottish Unionist Association Trust (Suat) handed over £22,446.10 to Jackson Carlaw’s party.

The new leader of the Scottish Tories now faces questions about where that money came from and how close the party and the association really are.

While £17,165.99 was in cash, the remaining £5280.11 were “non-cash” donations including £3960 for premises.

The Scottish Tories refused to say which premises were donated or what they were used for.

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As an unincorporated association, the Suat doesn’t have to file accounts or reveal where its money comes from.

An investigation by the Ferret found the Suat gave £318,876 to the Conservatives between 2001 and 2018.

The address given as the base of the association to the Electoral Commission is 570 Mosspark Boulevard in Glasgow, a small hall in the Southside of Glasgow, near Bellahouston Park.

The National:

It’s not clear if these were the premises donated to the party, but the same address is used by the Glasgow Conservative Association, the South Lanarkshire Conservatives, the Kelvin & Anniesland Conservative & Unionist Association, the East Ayrshire Conservatives & Unionists, and the Renfrewshire & Inverclyde amongst others.

It was also used as the address of a number of Tory candidate election agents in last December’s vote.

Of the cash donated, £5000 was given to the party in Moray.

Scotland Office minister Douglas Ross has since declared the sum from the association on his most recent register of interests. The Trust also donated £3000 to the South Lanarkshire Tories on December 21 and then another £1000 eight days later.

The four candidates for the party in South Lanarkshire were Lynne Nailon who came a distant third in Rutherglen & Hamilton West, Shona Haslam who was 5187 votes behind the SNP’s Angela Crawley in Lanark & Hamilton East, and in East Kilbride, Strathaven & Lesmahagow, Gail MacGregor who was in third place, 11,961 votes behind incumbent MP Lisa Cameron.

However, David Mundell held on in Dumfriesshire, Clydesdale & Tweeddale, where his majority dropped from 9441 to 3781.

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There is no record of a Suat donation on his register of interests.

Though he has, since December, added details of £33,495‬worth of donations from eight other donors.

The Electoral Commission figures also revealed that the Suat donated £2000 to the North Lanarkshire party. The Tories were, by some distance, third in all four of the North Lanarkshire seats

There were also two separate donations of £3960 and £2499.99 to the central party on December 3. That followed a donation of £808.55 on November 26, and £511.56 on October 23.

The SNP MSP George Adam said the “dark money scandal has become a real running sore for the party.”

He added: “And no wonder, when they’re accepting murky handouts from the Suat just months after the group were found guilty of dodgy practices by the elections watchdog.

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“The Tories need to clean up their act – no political party is above the law.”

A Tory spokesman said: “All donations received by the Scottish Conservatives are declared openly and transparently in line with Electoral rules.”

The Trust did not respond to the Sunday National’s request for a comment.

In 2018 the Suat were fined £1800 by the Electoral Commission for not reporting donations properly.

As an “unincorporated association”, all political donations of more than £25,000 have to be flagged up to the watchdog within 30 days.

However, it was found to have made donations exceeding this amount in 2010, 2015, 2016 and 2017 without notifying the Commission.

After a lengthy investigation, the watchdog concluded that the group was a “permissible donor”, and that Suat had “failed to provide accurate reports on time”.

The group were also criticised for failing to report some donations it had received, including one of £50,000 in February 2014.

In an interview with the BBC, Peter Duncan, a former Tory MP and a former trustee of Suat said that “in no way” were the groups donations “dark money”.

“The suggestion that this is in some way dark money is a bit like suggesting the WI [Women’s Institute] is some KGB-front organisation. This is historic proceeds of tombolas and raffles throughout the west of Scotland going back 50 years,” he said.