Lottery winners defend Yes donation
A couple who won £161 million on the Euromillions lottery have defended their decision to donate funds to the pro-independence campaign.
Chris and Colin Weir, who claimed the jackpot in 2011, have made a rare public statement in the face of criticism of their donations, which include £1 million to Yes Scotland last year.
They describe themselves as "lifelong supporters of independence" and said it would be "strange" if they did not support the Yes Scotland campaign.
It was reported in March that the Weirs had handed over a further seven-figure sum to the campaign. The couple also donated £1 million to the SNP in 2012, which the party pledged to use towards its independence war chest.
Some opposition MSPs and observers, such as Conservative Alex Johnstone, questioned the motivation behind the donations and the Weirs have now hit back.
In a letter published in some Scottish newspapers, the couple said: "No one bullied or targeted us, as has been suggested in recent newspaper articles. The only 'targeting' has been by an MSP who chose to express his 'concern' for us by implying we have been, at best, naive, and, at worst, duped.
"Would he, we wonder, have felt the same concern had our contribution supported his cause?
"The people of Scotland are not gullible. They aren't going to vote based on how much money we have given to a particular campaign - they will make their decision based on being well-informed.
"That's why we made the donations we did, to ensure there was the chance of an informed debate. Beyond that, it's up to the voting public to decide, not us; we only have two votes."
The couple, who have also established a charitable trust and donated millions of pounds to community projects, said they decided to make a statement after recent comment and speculation, of which some was "downright nasty".
"We appreciate that not everyone shares our political view," the letter said.
"That surely is the point of democracy. And, in a democracy, we each have the right to support political campaigns of our choosing and to contribute financially, provided we do so in line with the rules.
"As lifelong supporters of independence, it would be strange if we did not support the Yes Scotland campaign. So that is what we have done, nothing more and nothing less."
They added: "On September 19, irrespective of the outcome, we all have to live together. That will only be possible if both sides of the campaign, the politicians and the media, take responsibility for their behaviour and language in the next few months.
"They are the ones who will steer Scotland through this challenging period. We can't have the possibility of leaving our country fragmented.
"So it is time for all sides to stop the smears and personal attacks before a line is crossed and attitudes adopted that cannot easily be healed.
"No one, on any side, should be vilified for the views they hold, lest our democracy become the victim of the present debate."