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Brexit minister Steve Baker probed over cash from group which donated to DUP

By Suzanne Breen

Parliament's standards watchdog is to investigate Brexit minister Steve Baker over a donation he received from a DUP-linked group which helped bankroll the Leave campaign.

Mr Baker took £6,500 from the Constitutional Research Council (CRC) which gave £425,622 to the DUP during the Brexit referendum.

The DUP spent most of the money on a pro-Brexit national newspaper advertising campaign in England and Scotland.

Mystery surrounds the CRC, which has no website, campaigns team, published membership list and does not appear to be registered as a company. Mr Baker, a leading Brexiteer, was promoted to the front bench after the Westminster election to work with Brexit Secretary David Davis.

The Times reported that former Labour culture minister Ben Bradshaw has asked the parliamentary commissioner for standards, Kathryn Hudson, to investigate the donation to Mr Baker.

According to the rules, MPs must satisfy themselves that any donation made to them comes from a "permissible donor".

Mr Bradshaw said he wanted Ms Hudson to establish whether the CRC was a "permissible donor within the framework of the Electoral Commission's guidelines at the time the donation to Mr Baker was made".

A spokesman for Mr Baker said: "All the steps have been taken to ensure donations are registered and accepted in accordance with the rules, and we are confident that they do so."

The CRC is headed by a former vice chairman of the Scottish Conservative Party, Richard Cook, who has said the group exists to support constitutional pro-Union causes.

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