Claim Ruth Davidson took £20,000 Russian donation is Mostly False 6

Claim Ruth Davidson took £20,000 Russian donation is Mostly False

As the Russian attack on Ukraine continues, alleged links between Conservative politicians and Russian money have come to the fore.

Conservative leader Ruth Davidson was the recipient of £20,000 from a Russia donor. One graphic shared hundreds of times gave a list of “Russian donations to Tory MPs” and included “Ruth Davidson SMP [sic] £20,000”.

Ferret Fact Service looked into this claim and found it Mostly False

Claim Ruth Davidson took £20,000 Russian donation is Mostly False 7

Evidence

The Conservative Party has been the subject of controversy because of donations received from people linked to the Russian state. 

Many media outlets and social media users have criticised these donations, and posted claims regarding the individuals who have given money to certain party politicians. 

The graphic shared widely named 25 Conservative politicians, including Ruth Davidson, and alleged amounts they had received from Russia donors. 

It is important to note that donations from Russian-born or linked individuals are not illegal, as long as they fulfil the Electoral Commission criteria. Donators must be UK or Commonwealth citizens and the donations must be properly recorded. 

Ruth Davidson is no longer an MSP, and now sits in the House of Lords as a life peer. The £20,000 referenced in the claim appears to be from a fundraising event for the Conservative Party in 2018. 

The Black and White Ball, an annual fundraising event, auctioned off prizes including spending a day with then-Prime Minister Theresa May, and dinner with Ruth Davidson. The dinner with Davidson was reportedly won by Russian businesswoman Lubov Chernukhin, who was once married to Russia’s deputy finance minister under Vladimir Putin.

Donations to Davidson are catalogued on the Electoral Commission website, and show the highest amount given was £12,500 in 2011, by a company called Alchemist Estate Ltd. There are no £20,000 donations listed from Russia sources. 

Chernkhin has donated more than £2m to the Conservative Party since 2012, but has only given money to one MP, Brandon Lewis

The confusion appears to be that Ruth Davidson was part of the auction prizes which were bid on by Chernukhin, but it appears the money raised went to the central party, not Ruth Davidson directly. It appears the meal did not take place.

Ferret Fact Service verdict: Mostly False

Ruth Davidson did not receive a £20,000 donation from a Russian linked to the Putin government, instead a dinner with her was auctioned off during a Conservative Party fundraising event in 2018. It was reportedly won by a Russian businesswoman, Lubov Chernukhin, but there’s no evidence that any money went to Davidson, rather that the donation went to the central Conservative Party. The Electoral Commission record does not show any other £20,000 donations to Davidson. 

This claim is Mostly False

Ferret Fact Service (FFS) is a non-partisan fact checker, and a signatory to the International Fact-Checking Network fact-checkers’ code of principles. All the sources used in our checks are publicly available and the FFS fact-checking methodology can be viewed here. Want to suggest a fact check? Go to community.theferret.scot, email us at factcheck@theferret.scot or join our Facebook group.

Photo credit: Gareth Milner, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

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