Businessman who supported Section 28 pledges £500,000 to the SNP

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A businessman who gave £1 million to the campaign to uphold Section 28 has pledged £500,000 to the Scottish National Party’s election campaign.

In 2000, Brian Souter, the co-founder of Stagecoach, cited his religious beliefs as his reason for supporting the ban on the promotion of homosexuality in schools.

Having donated to the SNP before, he has now said he will match individual donations to the party up to the value of £500,000.

The SNP hopes to raise £1 million for its campaign ahead of the May 5th Scottish parliament elections.

Green MSP Patrick Harvie suggested that Mr Souter’s support of Section 28 made him an unsuitable donor.

According to the BBC, he said: “The campaign against Souter’s bigoted agenda inspired me to get into politics, and any principled party would have told him where to stuff his money.

“This isn’t America, though, where elections can be bought and sold. The SNP are delivering tax cuts for the rich and public service cuts for the rest.”

Tim Hopkins, of the Equality Network, said 11 years had passed since Mr Souter had last spoken out in support of anti-gay policies and pointed out that the beliefs of most political donors are unknown.

He said: “There’s no evidence that the money he’s given has influenced policies.

“But accepting donations from someone who is actively campaigning [against gay equality] would put the party in a very difficult position.”

SNP leader Alex Salmond welcomed Mr Souter’s pledge, calling him “one of the outstanding entrepreneurs of his generation”.

Mr Salmond continued: “This offer to match every small donation the SNP receives up to £500,000 will power our fundraising for this campaign, and double the impact of every penny put toward re-electing an SNP government in May.”