Dark Money Investigations

We've forced a change in the law on 'dark money'. But we still need to do more

This is why our campaigning journalism is important.

Mary Fitzgerald headshot in circle, small
Mary Fitzgerald
4 July 2017

Campaigning journalism from openDemocracy has pushed the UK government to change the law in Northern Ireland over anonymous political donations.On Monday the Northern Ireland secretary James Brokenshire announced the government would end the right of donors to Northern Ireland's political parties to remain anonymous.

This issue came to prominence after openDemocracy exposed that the DUP received a £435,000 donation for its Brexit campaign that was hidden from public view.

We exposed the shadowy links of the donor group that gave DUP that 'dark money' during the Brexit campaign.

We raised the issue with the Electoral Commission.

We asked the DUP's campaign manager about the money and its shadowy links, he claimed not to know.

We investigated the senior Scottish Tory at the centre of this Brexit funding scandal.

We showed how similar 'dark money' donations had helped the Scottish Tories too.

And that one branding agency in a small town was oddly at the centre of several different Leave campaigns.

Our campaigning journalism and the interest it has attracted has played a key role in pressuring the government to change its tune on political donations.

But it isn't enough. The new rules will not apply retroactively, and therefore won't expose where the DUP got their money from. And they won't stop secret donors using the other loophoes we've uncovered – which, for example, have allowed the Tories to flood Scotland with dark money. Nor will it stop politicians from doing the completely outrageous things we've exposed that are still 'within the rules'. 

We aren't going to drop this.

But we need your help to keep digging. We're crowd-funding our investigation because we think everyone deserves to know who bankrolls our politics.

Thank you for anything you can do.

Urgent: expose dark money in our politics

Dear reader,

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

Had enough of ‘alternative facts’? openDemocracy is different Join the conversation: get our weekly email


We encourage anyone to comment, please consult the oD commenting guidelines if you have any questions.
Audio available Bookmark Check Language Close Comments Download Facebook Link Email Newsletter Newsletter Play Print Share Twitter Youtube Search Instagram