RICHARD Cook, the former vice chairman of the Scottish Tories, who facilitated a shadowy £425,000 Brexit donation to the DUP, has been accused of “illegal activity” by the BBC.

An investigation by BBC Northern Ireland’s Spotlight programme accused Cook of shipping illegal tyre waste to India in 2009, presenting fake documents to the authorities and leaving a shipping company with an unpaid bill of more than £1 million.

Cook, who is based in East Renfrewshire, denies involvement with illegal waste. He is the only known member of the Constitutional Research Council, which gave the DUP £425,000 during the EU referendum.

That money was then used to buy adverts supporting the Brexit campaign throughout the whole of the UK, including a £280,000 four-page advert in the Metro, a newspaper not available in Northern Ireland.

One of the hangovers of the Troubles is that donations to political parties can be made in secret as fear of reprisal was once a reality.

The BBC’s Spotlight revealed that the Metro advert was booked by Cook himself, and not, as the advert itself said, the DUP’s Jeffrey Donaldson.

In response to the programme’s findings, Gavin Millar QC, an expert on electoral law, called on the Electoral Commission to investigate further.

“It has to compel answers from those involved, which it has powers to do,” he said.

Millar added: “If necessary it needs to obtain court orders compelling answers from people involved, and disclosure of information.”

The DUP told Spotlight that the party authorised and directed all spending. The party also told the programme it had complied with electoral law at all times.

According to the BBC, Cook was a founding director and shareholder of a company called DDR Recycling in Glasgow which has since gone out of business owing £150,000 in unpaid tax.

Cook’s company had apparently signed an $80m contract in 2013 to purchase used railway tracks in Ukraine.

But it transpired the person behind the company in Ukraine was a convicted criminal from Germany who had been sentenced to eight years in jail for his role in a large-scale food fraud.

Retired FBI Special Agent Gregory Coleman told the BBC that such high value contracts would likely be of interest to authorities in the US who can investigate most financial crime where transactions are in dollars.

“I think there is a good chance that law enforcement in New York City would be interested in taking a further look at this and possibly opening something up,” he said.

Cook denied involvement in illegal waste and any knowledge of the Ukrainian contract and said he ceased day to day activities with DDR in 2009. However, he remained a director and shareholder until 2014.

Meanwhile, more questions were being asked about the Scottish Unionist Association Trust, who gave £318,876.66 to the Tories between April 9, 2001 and February 28, 2018.

Tory politicians who accepted SUAT donations include deputy leader Jackson Carlaw MSP, Banff and Buchan MP David Duguid, and Moray MP Douglas Ross.

An investigation by the Ferret website found there was no information available about the people who currently manage the organisation, and no public accounts to indicate who its donors are, or what assets it holds.

An SNP spokesperson said: “The Scottish Tories are up to their necks in dark money and it’s time the Electoral Commission zeroed in on these dodgy practices.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Tories said: “Everything donated from the SUAT to the Scottish Conservatives has been properly declared in line with Electoral Commission rules. We always check that donations are permissible before accepting. “