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General Election 2015: Green energy tycoon spreads bets with campaign donations

Dale Vince has boosted the coffers of both Labour and the Lib Dems

Matt Dathan
Friday 01 May 2015 07:37 BST
Dale Vince is hedging his bets and backing both eco-friendly parties
Dale Vince is hedging his bets and backing both eco-friendly parties (Getty Images)

A green energy tycoon who benefited significantly from environmental subsidies introduced by Labour has donated £100,000 to Ed Miliband’s election campaign, a week after he gave £30,000 to the Liberal Democrats.

Dale Vince, owner of green energy firm Ecotricity, receives an estimated £6 million a year in subsidies from the Department for Energy and Climate Change, which Mr Miliband ran for two years under the last Labour government. He has been paid a total of £36 million since the scheme began in 2002.

Last week he donated £30,000 to Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats, suggesting he is hedging his bets and backing both eco-friendly parties in the hope that at least one of them is in government to prevent an increasingly hostile Conservative party from cutting back on green subsidies.

Mr Vince also owns Forest Green Rovers football club and has pledged to turn the club vegan if they get promoted to the Football League.

Earlier this year he donated £250,000 to the Labour party, warning of the “existential threat” to renewable energy from a second term of Conservative government.

He found himself at the centre of a landmark divorce case last month when he was forced to pay his ex-wife a financial settlement despite the couple divorcing long before he made millions through Ecotricity.

His latest donation to the Labour party was among £4.2 million of donations made to political parties in the third week of the election campaign, which were disclosed by the Electoral Commission yesterday.

The records revealed another £20,000 was donated to the Conservative party by Beatrice Tollman, the wife of convicted tax fraudster Stanley Tollman.

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The Tories confirmed they had returned the latest donation from the Tollman family – the third week in a row the party has been forced to pay back donations after an investigation by The Independent revealed that Mrs Tollman had herself been charged with conspiracy to evade millions of dollars’ worth of tax in the US, charges that were dismissed by a judge in 2008. It takes the total returned to the Tollmans to £90,000.

Labour received the most donations for a third week in a row, narrowly beating Ukip, which received £1.5 million - £1 million from Daily Express owner Richard Desmond and £500,000 from hedge fund manager. The Tories received £1.08 million, with £265,000 from hedge fund managers.

The Liberal Democrats received just two donations totalling £75,000.

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