Belfast Telegraph

New details emerge of English mechanic who left Sinn Fein £1.5m donation in will

A deceased supporter has left £1.5m to Sinn Fein. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye
A deceased supporter has left £1.5m to Sinn Fein. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

New details have emerged about an English mechanic who left a £1.5m donation in his will to Sinn Fein.

The money was given to the party by William E Hampton and was paid in two instalments of £1m and £500,000 in April and May.

Mr Hampton was born in London and died on January 11 2018 at his home in Pembrokeshire, Wales, at the age of 82, the PA news agency reports.

Mr Hampton, who was not married and had no children, left some money to friends and acquaintances, but the main beneficiary was Sinn Fein.  It is understood he spent some time living in Ireland and was a long-term supporter of the Irish republican party.

A Sinn Fein source told PA: "He was not Irish, he was listed as British on his birth certificate, and his birthplace is listed as London.

"He was a known supporter of Sinn Fein, and resided in Ireland at different periods.

"He made the will himself, and had it drawn up a few years ago, he's obviously been a supporter a long time and planned ahead."

It is understood that Mr Hampton had assets in other jurisdictions, which are still being litigated over, but the main assets were in England and Wales.

"The party have known about him for a long time and it wasn't exactly new information to the party as the will had been made a few years before," the party source added.

"The death, however, came out of the blue and was unexpected. The death certificate said he died of respiratory failure, and he was quite frail and elderly, so it was probably old age."

"We're obviously pleased that he has chosen to bequest this sum to the party and it's a positive boost to Sinn Féin in working towards Irish unity and towards our political objectives," a Sinn Fein spokesperson said.

"We are in full compliance with the requirements of the Electoral Commission on all of this."

The DUP previously held the record for the largest donation given to a political party in Northern Ireland.

They were given £435,000 from the pro-Brexit Constitutional Research Council.

The party was criticised for spending the majority of the money on an advert encouraging people to vote in favour of Brexit in the Metro newspaper.

The donation to Sinn Fein made up the bulk of all money given Northern Ireland's political parties between April and June 2019.

The total figure given to parties stood at £1,839,973, with around £338,000 given to the other parties.

Of the money donated the majority came through public funds from the House of Commons, Northern Ireland Assembly and the Electoral Commission.

Only donations above £7,500 have to be reported to the Electoral Commission.

A DUP advertisement that appeared in The Metro
A DUP advertisement that appeared in The Metro

Due to Sinn Fein's donation the amount donated to the parties in the second quarter of 2019 was over £1,500,000 more than the previous quarter, from January to March.

Head of the Electoral Commission in Northern Ireland Ann Watt said that the publishing of the amounts donated ensured transparency in party funding.

“The political party donations and loans data that we have published allows voters to clearly see how parties in Northern Ireland are funded," she said.

"This transparency helps to enhance public confidence and trust in our democratic process.”

Donations to Northern Ireland's political parties are now made public after legislation was introduced in March 2018 to publish details of donations made from July 1 2017 onwards.

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