Fine over Scottish Labour donations

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THE loser in last year’s race to be deputy leader of Scottish Labour has been fined after failing to declare around £17,000 of donations on time.

Glasgow councillor Matt Kerr, who is chair of the city’s licensing board, paid a £200 fixed penalty after failing to register the monies within 30 days.

Mr Kerr accepted £17,550 towards his campaign between February 14 and March 11 last year, but did not reported it until April 15.

The left-wing underdog to the favourite, MSP Jackie Baillie, he had strong union backing.

He received donations of £5,050 and £3,000 from the CWU, where his father Andy Kerr is the deputy general secretary.

He also received £7,000 from Unite and £2,500 from Unison Scotland Labour Link.

He lost the contest by almost 3,000 votes, getting 42 per cent of the vote to Ms Baillie’s 58%.

Mr Kerr said there was an honest mistake, with his campaign thinking it had 30 days from the end of the contest to report donations, when it was 30 days from taking the cash.

He said: “When the error was realised, we immediately got in touch with the Electoral Commission to rectify it. We accept the outcome, and thank the Electoral Commission for taking the circumstances into account in reaching it.”

The race was prompted by former Scottish deputy Lesley Laird losing her Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat in the 2019 general election.

According to her MSP register of interests, Ms Baillie had six donations worth £25,500, including £10,000 from the GMB, £5000 from Usdaw, and £2000 from the Community union.

She also accepted £2500 from pro-Union campaigner Kevin Hague and £3000 from businessman Lord Willie Haughey.

The Commission said Mr Kerr paid the fine on January 25.

Director of Regulations Louise Edwards said: “The reporting requirements are clear, so it is always disappointing when they are not met.

“It is vital that voters have the opportunity to see timely data on how campaigners spend their money and who is donating to elected officials.

“The Commission will continue to enforce these requirements to ensure that voters have the information they need.”

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