THE Scottish Greens LGBT+ wing have hit out at the SNP for a “lack of moral standing” after reports they courted a controversial tycoon and former donor.

The Rainbow Greens called on the SNP to “immediately come clean” on their relationship with Brian Souter, founder of Stagecoach and one of Scotland’s richest men, after it emerged he had helped First Minister Humza Yousaf arrange a meeting with business leaders.

Souter led a campaign to keep Section 28 in place in the early 2000s, a controversial policy introduced by Margaret Thatcher’s Tory government that prohibited the “promotion of sexuality” by local authorities, effectively banning teachers from discussing gay rights.

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Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie, now a junior minister in the Scottish Government with the SNP, previously said Souter’s campaign to stop the policy inspired him to get into politics.

Souter was one of the biggest donors to the SNP under Alex Salmond, but stopped giving cash to the party under Nicola Sturgeon. However, he has never publicly said why.

In a statement published on Twitter/X, the Rainbow Greens hit out at reports the SNP were reportedly bringing Souter back into the fold.

“Accepting, or seeking the support of a prominent backer and financier of regressive and damaging policy, shows a clear lack of moral standing,” they said.

The National:

“No progressive party should ever accept the support of individuals like Souter. This shows regression, the opposite of what the SNP stand for.”

They added that Sturgeon led the SNP without “running to Souter cap in hand”.

“The SNP and the First Minister must immediately come clean on their relationship with Souter, and again commit to the shared values of the co-operation agreement,” the statement continued.

They then quoted co-leader Harvie in 2011 who criticised the Salmond administration as “economically and socially conservative”, and said Souter’s views on LGBT Scots “should have gone out with John Knox”.

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He also suggested that accepting a donation from Souter sent the message that the SNP was “for sale to the highest bidder”.

When it emerged in 2007 that Souter had donated £50,000 to the SNP, Harvie was one of those who criticised the party for accepting the cash.

When Souter said he would match individual donations to the SNP up to £500,000 in 2011 as part of its Scottish Parliament election campaign, Harvie (below) did not hold back on his criticism.

"The campaign against Souter's bigoted agenda inspired me to get into politics, and any principled party would have told him where to stuff his money,” he said at the time.

The National:

However, the Scottish Greens declined to comment when approached by The National regarding the FM’s meeting with Souter.

We told how Humza Yousaf’s chief of staff Colin McAllister and an aide to Souter on the subject exchanged emails on a possible dinner in summer 2023 as part of the FM’s bid to reset with the business sector.

The dinner eventually went ahead at a five-star Edinburgh hotel in the summer of last year, after Souter reportedly “offered to reach out to some people”.

Yousaf, Souter, Wellbeing Economy Secretary Neil Gray, former managing director of DC Thomson Ellis Watson, and McAllister are all listed as attending, as well as nine other figures whose names were redacted from the information release.

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Souter’s aide also reportedly tried to book the luxury hotel on the Scottish Government’s behalf, a move politely declined by McAllister.

Souter, a Scottish independence supporter, donated more than £2.5 million to the SNP between 2007 and the 2014 referendum.

The SNP declined to comment.