The Scottish branch office of the Liberal Democrats are holding their sparsely attended conference in Hamilton this weekend and controversy erupted yesterday when ahead of her speech Jo Swinson, the MP for East Dunbartonshire, was introduced as having “unseated the odious John Nicolson”. John is the former SNP MP for the constituency having held the seat from 2015 to 2017.
This won’t be the first time that Ms Swinson has had an article about her on this website, her first appearance coming when I investigated her spending at the 2017 General Election and you can view that article here.
For this article I’m going to explore the donors that fund her.
Keith Moody – £1,000 + £1,111 (June 2017)
Keith Moody is a former East Dunbartonshire Councillor who served as Council Leader between 1999 and 2003 as well as being leader of the Lib Dem group on the council from 1995 to 2003. He also previously served as a director of East Dunbartonshire Municipal Bank, East Dunbartonshire CVS, Twechar Community Action and Volunteer Centre East Dunbartonshire. The current Co-Leader of the Lib Dem/Tory coalition East Dunbartonshire Council is Vaughan Moody who is, to the best of my knowledge, Mr Moody’s son.
Ghill Donald – £2,000 (May 2017)
Ghill Donald is the Co-Founder of marketing agency BD Network which was founded in Glasgow in 1990. He was an active NO campaigner in the 2014 Independence Referendum both as sponsor and organiser for the “Just Say Naw” tour which featured George Galloway and former Cunninghame North MP Brian Wilson as well as being one of the founding members of workingforscotland.org,
a collective of employers and employees who believed that membership of the UK and EU single markets were working for Scotland and that a NO vote would provide the opportunity to enhance those relationships further.
At the same time as donating to Ms Swinson he also donated £2,000 to Christine Jardine, the Lib Dem MP for Edinburgh West, as well as a further £2,000 to the Edinburgh Southern Constituency Labour Party in July 2017.
Dinesh Dhamija – £5,000 (May 2017)
Dinesh Dhamija is the Australian born son of an Indian diplomat who, in 1999, founded the UK’s first online travel agency Ebookers. In 2005, Mr Dhamija sold Ebookers for £209m. As well as being the Lib Dem’s Deputy Treasurer he is a regular donor to the party having donated a total of £824,907. In 2018 he sought selection as the Lib Dem’s candidate for the 2020 London Mayoral Election but was unsuccessful.
Mark Petterson – £10,000 (May 2017) + £4,000 (January 2019)
Mark Petterson is a director of Warwick Energy Ltd a UK focussed developer of upstream energy production projects specialising in Renewable Power Generation, Gas Exploration & Production, Distributed Generation and Gas Storage. They have fracking licences in in North Lancashire, South Yorkshire and the Derbyshire/Nottinghamshire border.
Mr Petterson is another prolific donor having donated a total of £445,150 to the Lib Dems and Your Liberal Britain. In 2015 he was at a dinner hosted by Danny Alexander who was at the time the Chief Secretary to the Treasury. Also present was an undercover reporter from The Telegraph – who had recently made an illicit donation to the Liberal Democrats – which, just days later, had led to him being ushered into the select dinner.
Michelle Quest – £5,000 (May 2017) + £10,000 (January 2018)
Michelle Quest is the Head of Tax, Pensions and Legal Services at KPMG. As well as these donations to Jo Swinson she also donated £2,000 to her in 2014 and 2015.
Alistair Barr – £5,000 (June 2017) + £5,000 (December 2017) + £5,000 (October 2018)
Alistair Barr stood as a Lib Dem candidate in local elections for the London Borough of Westminster in 2016 and 2018. He has donated a total of £92,958 to the Lib Dems.
More United Ltd – £3,000 (June 2017)
More United is a cross-party political movement in the United Kingdom. It describes itself as a “tech-driven political startup” that supports candidates regardless of party affiliation. The movement advocates public service investment, democratic reform, a green economy, tolerant society, and co-operation with the EU.
They have donated a total of £191,665 to the Lib Dems and Labour.
Lord Matthew Oakeshott – £10,000 (June 2017)
Lord Matthew Oakeshott is a Life Peer in the House of Lords, he served as the Lib Dem’s Treasury Spokesman in the Lords from 2001 to 2011. He resigned from the Lib Dems in 2014 after several disagreements with the then leader Nick Clegg, despite his resignation he has donated a total of £893,750 to the Lib Dems including £5,000 to Christine Jardine also in June 2017. He is related to Question Time regular Isabel Oakeshott.
Andrew Dixon – £10,000 (June 2017)
Andrew Dixon is an angel investor and co-founder of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network. He has donated a total of £406,200 to the Lib Dems with £305,100 of that being donated at the 2017 General Election.
Joe Zammit-Lucia – £5,000 (June 2017)
Joe Zammit-Lucia is a Co-Founder and Trustee of radix.org.uk, a think tank for the radical centre. He is an entrepreneur and commentator on business and political issues. He writes columns for various outlets in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, and the USA. He is co-author of “The Death of Liberal Democracy?” and “A Radical Politics for Business”. He has donated a total of £287,486 to the Lib Dems.
Duncan Greenland – £2,000 (January 2018)
Duncan Greenland is a venture capitalist who has donated a total of £332,409 to the Lib Dems and was awarded a CBE by Nick Clegg in 2015 for “political and public service”. He is also listed as a registered Director of The Liberal Democrats Ltd.
Thomas Goode & Co Ltd – £10,000 (February 2018)
Thomas Goode & Co Ltd is an upmarket tableware shop selling china, glass and silverware, including bespoke pottery located in London’s Mayfair. Its Chairman is Lib Dem Peer Lord Rumi Verjee who also founded Domino’s Pizza in the UK and is chairman of Brompton Capital Limited and Ipanema Contemporary Living in Brazil. He has donated a total of £53,628 to the Lib Dems.
Mihir Magudia – £3,000 + £7,000 (March 2018)
Mihir Magudia is the Managing Director of the Digital Currency Foundation which amongst other things is the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Digital Currencies which was established in March 2018 with the aim to promote an appropriately regulated environment in which digital currencies may grow, and to raise awareness of digital currencies as an alternative means of financial investment and transactions.
Elizabeth Desmond – £5,000 (October 2018)
Elizabeth Desmond is the Deputy CEO and Chief Investment Officer at Mondrian Investment Partners and co-founder of the Liberal Democrats Business & Entrepreneurs Network along with Andrew Dixon who I mentioned earlier. She has donated a total of £186,023 to the Lib Dems.
Melissa Geiger – £2,000 (October 2018)
Melissa Geiger is the Head of International Tax and Tax Policy at KPMG where she works with Michelle Quest who we met earlier.
Jessica Frankopan – £2,000 (January 2019)
Jessica Frankopan is the great -great -grandaughter of the founder of Sainsbury’s supermarkets and is married to a Croatian Prince. Her father is Sir Timothy Sainsbury who was the Tory MP for Hove from 1973 to 1997. She has donated a total of £43,223 to the Lib Dems.
Jane Mactaggart – £2,500 (February 2019)
Jane Mactaggart is a former Lib Dem Swindon and Wiltshire county councillor who has donated a total of £91,808 to the Lib Dems. Jo Swinson’s husband, Duncan Hames, was the Lib Dem MP for Chippenham in Wiltshire from 2010 to 2015.
In addition to the £114,611 in donations listed above, Ms Swinson has claimed Office Expenses of £34,866 since being re-elected in 2017. It’s worth bearing in mind that she has likely received many other donations which fall below the reporting threshold.