Last year, Scottish transportation magnate Brian Souter (right), who has an estimated worth of more than £400 million ($630 million) was knighted by Queen Elizabeth. Gay activists were immediately outraged because, in addition to his many charities, Souter donated more than £1 million ($1.6 million) to prevent the repeal of Clause 28, which banned UK authorities and schools from “promoting homosexuality.”
Tthough he was allegedly honored “for services to transport and the voluntary sector,” allegations have risen that Sir Brian “bought” his knighthood by donating £1 million to the ruling Scottish National Party.
This month, the SNP announced it wouldn’t release secret correspondence between Souter and party members. Their reasoning? The paperwork costs too much.
According to an SNP spokesperson, it would cost more than the established £600 cap to retrieve the correspondence. Previously the SNP claimed it couldn’t comply with the Labour Party’s freedom-of-information request for the letters because Buckingham Palace forbid it—and then because Labour hadn’t clarified exactly what they wanted.
Souter’s profile on his website defends his support of Clause 28:
Some saw it as controversial when he personally funded a national referendum in Scotland on Clause 28. A total of 1,262,686 people returned ballot papers and a staggering 86.8% – that’s 1,096,011 – agreed with Brian that Clause 28 should not be repealed.
It’s worth noting that the number who voted with him to keep the clause far exceeds the number of votes cast for any single political party in Scotland at any election over the last 10 years.
Sir Brian is a man of conviction who simply stands up for what he believes in—a value lauded by those who believe in free speech and democracy—a right which he would passionately defend for anyone.
So Souter likes to defend free speech? Not when someone is speaking on behalf of gay people, apparently.
Of course, this is all going on as the debate on gay marriage in Scotland rages on, a change which, ironically, has been approved by the SNP, which is generally left-leaning and supports Scottish independence.
So could homophobic Sir Brian’s money actually help legalize marriage equality? What delicious irony!
Photos via Briansouter.com