Opponents of Scottish independence raise £1.1m

Under electoral law anyone donating more than £7,500 to the groups must be named in public

Opponents of Scottish independence have raised more than £1.1m in their bid to keep the United Kingdom intact, new figures have revealed.

The campaign group Better Together, which is being fronted by the former Chancellor Alistair Darling, disclosed this weekend that it had nearly doubled its fighting fund after receiving a £500,000 donation from the oil tycoon Ian Taylor.

The organisation now claims nearly 10,000 financial backers including the crime author C J Sansom, who gave £161,000 after describing the Scottish National Party as “dangerous”.

Alan Savage, an engineering entrepreneur, has handed over £100,000, while the chairman of HSBC holdings, Douglas Flint, gave £25,000. The late Gordon Baxter, of Baxters Food Group, donated £10,000.

A referendum on Scottish independence is due to be held in September 2014. Mr Taylor, the chief executive of Vitol Oil who has also donated money to the Tory party, said his father had moved south to find work at ICI but remained “passionately Scottish”.

He added: “The nature of my work means that I am based in London, like tens of thousands of Scots now facing the same prospect of becoming foreigners in our own land.”

Better Together revealed that 10 single donations accounted for £891,000 of the £1,118,451 raised so far.

The pro-independence group Yes Scotland has declined to accept gifts of more than £500 from anyone not on the electoral register in Scotland. Supporters of the First Minister Alex Salmond’s dream of an independent Scotland include the actor Sir Sean Connery. However, the tennis star Andy Murray has warned against making a snap decision.

Under electoral law anyone donating more than £7,500 to the campaign groups must have their name made public. Better Together’s campaign director Blair McDougall said: “10,000 donations is a good start, and we have plans to raise far more.”

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