Current Affairs Journalism Politics

The DUP, The Constitutional Research Council And Brexit’s Dark Money Secrets

Back in February ASF examined the financing of the Democratic Unionist Party’s Brexit campaign, in particular the revelation that a secret donation had been made to it by a mysterious right-wing lobby group in the United Kingdom known as the Constitutional Research Council. While the story has moved on since then, Fintan O’Toole provides a useful summary of the controversy in the Irish Times:

…two days before the Brexit referendum last June, the Metro freesheet in London and other British cities came wrapped in a four-page glossy propaganda supplement urging readers to vote Leave. Bizarrely, it was paid for by the DUP, even though Metro does not circulate in Northern Ireland. At the time, the DUP refused to say what the ads cost or where the money came from.

We’ve since learned that the Metro wraparound cost a staggering £282,000 (€330,000) – surely the biggest single campaign expense in the history of Irish politics. For context, the DUP had spent about £90,000 (€106,000) on its entire campaign for the previous month’s assembly elections. But this was not all: the DUP eventually admitted that this spending came from a much larger donation of £425,622 (€530,000) from a mysterious organisation, the Constitutional Research Council.

The Constitutional Research Council is headed by a Scottish conservative activist of apparently modest means, Richard Cook…

What they found is that Richard Cook has a history of involvement with a very senior and powerful member of the Saudi royal family, who also happens to have been a former director of the Saudi intelligence agency.

Not unrelated to the events above is this article by Carole Cadwalladr in the Guardian investigating the “dark money” backers of the anti-European Union movement in Britain, particularly the clandestine supporters of Nigel Farage’s UKIP. Notably it includes a mention of Palantir, the well-heeled data-spooks discussed in a 2013 article on ASF. It is well worth reading the full piece. Similarly, you should follow the journalist’s latest tweets on the legal attempts being made to block her reporting of the issue.


2 comments on “The DUP, The Constitutional Research Council And Brexit’s Dark Money Secrets

  1. Once all the Neocon Unionists – Michael Gove, Boris Johnson, Charles Moore, Julie Burchill, Theresa Villiers, Janet Daley, Melanie Philips, Rupert Murdoch, et al., – endorsed Brexit it was clear that it was anything but an “insurgent” cause. Indeed the very voices who insisted that Brexit was a blow against the “globalist elite” were themselves paid up shills for that elite.


    • It’s like the infamous Los Vegas millionaires co-opting the Tea Party movement in the US, sidelining the anti-rich strand, and making it their own. In the end it gave a screwed-up Congress and now White House, ostensibly on an anti-establishment class ticket, in reality serving a millionaire class who some in the establishment sought to exercise some minimal control over.


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