Dark Money Investigations

Do you know where the Brexit dark money came from? Tell us anonymously

Someone out there knows something about the DUP's mystery £435,000 Brexit spending spree. It's vital for democracy that we all find out.

Adam Ramsay Mary Fitzgerald headshot in circle, small
Adam Ramsay Mary Fitzgerald
27 November 2017
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image: maselkoo99, Getty images

Theresa May’s key allies, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), received an unprecedented £435,000 to campaign for Brexit. That’s far more than they’ve ever spent on an election campaign in their history – and they spent almost none of it in Northern Ireland. But, because of outdated secrecy laws, we aren’t allowed to know who gave it to them.

Some people, however, do know. If you have been burdened with this secret – or know anything about it – we are appealing to you, today, to tell us. You can do so entirely anonymously, or speak to us off the record. More details here.

We are launching this appeal today because Theresa May's government has just confirmed what we long feared: that it will not honour all the provisions of a law passed in 2014, which paved the way for transparency of political donations in Northern Ireland.

Instead – despite urging from across the political divide – May’s government is going to pass a law which offers a charade of transparency. Political donors in Northern Ireland will no longer be allowed anonymity – but there’s a catch: the new law is only effective from 1st July 2017.

This means that the DUP (who just happen to have signed a £1bn deal this year to prop up May’s Conservative government) won’t have to disclose who gave them that extraordinary £435,000 to campaign for Brexit – funding lavish adverts during the last days of the knife-edge European referendum.

Democracy depends on transparency. Whistleblowers throughout the ages have understood that secrecy breeds corruption. The EU referendum was one of the biggest decisions the United Kingdom has made in a generation, and we all have a right to know who paid for all the campaigns on each side.

Now that the government has refused to provide citizens with these basic facts, it's up to us to step in.

openDemocracy has been leading the way on this story from the start of the year – see our full dark money investigation here.

If you know anything about the DUP’s mystery donation, or have important information related to either side EU referendum campaign, click here to confidentially pass on what you know  – and provide us with any evidence you can to verify the information.

You can send it entirely anonymously, or you can speak with us off the record and we will safeguard any confidentiality you request.

Please also spread the word – it may be that you know someone else who might be able to help.

With thanks,

Mary Fitzgerald, Adam Ramsay and the openDemocracy team

Urgent: expose dark money in our politics

Dear readers across the world,

Brexit has shown how broken British democracy is, with voters still in the dark about who bankrolls the politicians and lobbyists deciding the country's future.

Years of tireless investigation by openDemocracy have made some things painfully clear. Dark money is putting sophisticated propaganda in billions of social media feeds worldwide. The law and its enforcers are lagging far behind new techniques of digital manipulation. And only dedicated, long-term investigative journalism will show you what is really going on.

Our work gets results – triggering law change, criminal investigations and prompting global debate. But we're a small non-profit journalism outfit – no billionaire proprietor or paywall – which is why we need ongoing support from readers to:

pay journalists fair and sustainable wages

provide our team with the tools and security they need to do their work safely

hire in the experts (forensic accountants, lawyers, and digital analysts) to help us uncover the truth

We need your support to make all this happen. Please contribute – it really does make a difference.

Mary Fitzgerald, Editor-in-Chief

                                                                                                                                                        
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