Alex Salmond defends party's acceptance of major donation from businessman who backed anti-gay campaign

The First Minister defended the decision, saying that it was an example of "honesty and integrity" in politics

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The Independent Online

Alex Salmond has defended the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) acceptance of a major donation from a businessman who funded an anti-gay law campaign.

It emerged in August that the SNP had accepted a £1m donation from Stagecoach boss Sir Brian Souter, who backed the unsuccessful ‘Keep the Clause’ campaign to retain Section 28, which prevented local authorities from “promoting” homosexuality.

But in a radio interview with the BBC’s Eddie Mair, the First Minister defended the decision, saying that it was an example of “honesty and integrity” in politics and that the businessman was an “outstanding entrepreneur,” PinkNews reported.

“He certainly hasn’t launched a campaign [against same-sex marriage,]” said Mr Salmond, who is an outspoken supporter for same-sex marriage.

“I know Brian Souter, I think he’s an outstanding Scottish entrepreneur, and I think he’s done some amazing things in building up his businesses, but I would have thought that, if you can have an example of a major donor to a political party whose attitude clearly hasn’t been followed through in the policy of that political party, wouldn’t that be an example of honesty and integrity in politics?”

Mr Salmond added that the SNP was not influenced by Mr Souter’s personal views.

The transport tycoon reportedly pledged up to £1m to fight plans to repeal the anti-gay law in 2000.

He has also previously donated to the SNP and other groups which back Scottish independence, like Business for Scotland and Christians for Independence.

When approached about the interview, an SNP spokesperson said:

“The SNP is proud of its exceptional record on equality – spearheading the recent Equal Marriage Bill through the Scottish Parliament.

“With a Yes vote on Thursday we will establish a constitutional guarantee to protect equality on the grounds of sexual orientation, ensuring our LGBTI citizens enjoy the true equality they deserve.”

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