Constitutional Research Council

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Articles

  • Jul.22.2017: Key poll which boosted Leadsom’s leadership bid funded by DUP’s dark-money donors. An important poll which added momentum to Andrea Leadsom's campaign to become prime minister was funded by the secretive Constitutional Research Council. The funding of the carefully-timed survey is one of only 3 known occasions that the mysterious Constitutional Research Council has been used to channel money into British politics – as well as the DUP donation, £6,500 was given to the MP and now Brexit minister Steve Baker, to pay for a meeting of the pro-Brexit MPs’ European Research Group, which he chaired. Baker was a key member of Andrea Leadsom’s campaign team, and sat on the board of directors of "Leadsom4Leader". The poll, which was conducted by Survation, was released on the day that Conservative MPs conducted their ‘first ballot’. The publication of the poll was particularly damaging for Michael Gove, Leadsom’s key challenger. When the Telegraph published its findings the next day, its headline claimed that “Four in 10 Tory supporters will not vote Conservative at GE-2020 if Michael Gove becomes leader”, and the article quoted two MPs, both of whom were supporters of Andrea Leadsom: Andrew Bridgen, and another “who asked not to be named”. The CRC has been at the centre of an ongoing openDemocracy investigation since we forced the DUP to reveal that a £435,000 donation for Brexit campaigning came to the party via the group. Little is known about the secretive organisation, but we do know that it is chaired by the Scottish Tory Richard Cook, whose numerous business and political connections include the former head of the Saudi intelligence service, a Danish "private banker" at the centre of a notorious Indian gun-running incident, Conservative Friends of Israel and the Campaign Against Political Correctness. Adam Ramsay, Peter Geoghegan, openDemocracy.
  • Jul.01.2017: The new Brexit minister, the arms industry, the American hard right… and Equatorial Guinea. Steve Baker, the new Brexit minister, accepted a donation from the shadowy Constitutional Research Council, the same group that channelled a mystery £435,000 to the DUP to campaign for Brexit. Baker has also taken money from an arms company while promoting the aerospace industry in parliament; accepted travel costs from the govt of Equatorial Guinea before writing a report dismissing concerns about their human rights abuses; and accepted conference expenses from radical right wing American groups with links to Robert Mercer and the Koch brothers. Scottish Tory Richard Cook set up a business in 2013 with Prince Nawwaf bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, a very senior Saudi prince and former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency, and with Peter Haestrup, a Danish man wanted by the Indian prosecution service over his alleged role in smuggling Kalashnikovs to a Hindu group in West Bengal in 1995. {more ...} openDemocracy, Adam Ramsay, Peter Geoghegan
  • Feb.24.2017: Revealed: Group that funded DUP's £425,622 Brexit ad campaign. The Constitutional Research Council (CRC) can today be revealed as the mystery donor that funded the DUP's drive for the UK to leave the European Union. It is chaired by Richard Cook, a former vice-chairman of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party. DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said the DUP's campaign for Brexit had been "a great success". DUP leader Arlene Foster said that she did not recall how much money was involved, and declined to reveal the identity of the donors (...) The CRC made a £6,500 donation to the ERG via Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe... Belfast Telegraph, Adrian Rutherford
  • Feb.15.2017: Secretive DUP Brexit donor links to the Saudi intelligence service. The DUP has links to the former Director General of the Saudi intelligence service, also the father of the current Saudi Ambassador to the UK. The DUP was forced last night to reveal its major donor to be the Constitutional Research Council (CRC). Little is known about the CRC, including where it got these funds from. But we do know it is chaired by the Scottish Conservative Richard Cook. Cook has strong links with Saudi Arabia, which was seen by economists as a likely beneficiary from Brexit. In 2013, Cook founded a company called Five Star Investment Management Ltd with the former head of the Saudi Arabian intelligence agency, Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz. The prince’s son is the Saudi ambassador to the UK. Five Star I.M. was registered at Mr Cook’s Glasgow address and lists as one of its other three initial shareholders HRH Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, whose address is listed as a palace in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, according to filings at Companies House. The firm filed no accounts with Companies House, and was dissolved in December 2014. Prince Nawwaf bin Abdul Aziz, who died in 2015, was a senior prince in the Saudi Court, and between Sept.01.2001 and Jan.2005 he served as head of the Saudi intelligence agency. His son, Prince Mohammed bin Nawaf Al Saud, is the Saudi Ambassador to the UK. {Much more about Cook ...} openDemocracy, Peter Geoghegan, Adam Ramsay