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The Highland Times

News From and Around The Highlands of Scotland

Douglas Ross Must Hand Back Tainted Cash

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Donations scandal is Owen Paterson moment for Scots Tory chief (pictured).

The SNP has called on the Scottish Conservatives to hand back cash donations they have pocketed from two separate firms after both companies were linked to criminal activity.

A senior employee, who is also a member of the family who own PB Devco, last week pleaded guilty to drug dealing.

The family-run company has a number of bars in Aberdeen and has previously donated £20,000 to the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party.

Meanwhile, it was also revealed last week that the north-east based Unity Fishing Company donated £20,000 to the Tories just a month before this year’s Holyrood election.

The firm was previously fined £35,000 for its involvement in a £23 million scam to evade fishing quotas – described by the trial judge as “truly staggering” in its scale.

The revelations come amid the ongoing fallout from the Owen Paterson scandal at Westminster, where several high-profile Scottish Tory MPs voted to let the disgraced former minister off the hook.

Commenting, SNP MSP Audrey Nicoll said:

“This is Douglas Ross and the Scottish Tories’ Owen Paterson moment.

“Their colleagues in Westminster, including Scottish Tory MPs, this week disgraced themselves in their bid to overturn the findings of the independent standards watchdog.

“The Tories at Holyrood seem keen to distance themselves from the sleaze engulfing Boris Johnson – this is their chance to prove they are serious.

“The cash the Scottish Tories have pocketed from both these companies is deeply tainted – and in both cases they should now return the money.

“If they don’t then people will be entitled to draw their own conclusions about the Tories and the kind of party they are becoming under Douglas Ross.

“The party isn’t responsible for the behaviour of these companies or the individuals employed by the firms – but they are entirely responsible for the company they keep and the cash they choose to accept and to keep.

“In the case of the Unity Fishing donation, it came after the company’s well-publicised involvement in a huge illegal fish-landing scam, which poses serious questions for Mr Ross and his party.

“Did he know about the company’s involvement in the multimillion-pound illegal fish-landing racket?

“And if so, did he simply choose to turn a blind eye?

“If he did it is simply unforgiveable, and reinforces the case for returning the money.

“This is now a test of leadership for Douglas Ross.

“The only acceptable thing is for him to order that this cash is handed back.”

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