An MP has hit out at local Labour councillors for abstaining on a vote probing a £100k donation to the Tories.

This was after the Electoral Commission fined the trust £400 last year for “failure to provide notification of gifts to a political party exceeding £25,000”.

North Ayrshire and Arran MP Patricia Gibson raised the issue during a debate on ‘dark money’ in Westminster last week, telling MPs she was ‘surprised and disappointed’ in the Labour councillor’s abstention over the vote.

She then claimed of ‘much denied but very clear confidence and supply arrangements’ between the Conservative and Labour groups. Labour leader Cllr Joe Cullinane declined to respond to the MP’s claim, although previously called the council motion ‘powerless’ on social media.

The motion was raised by SNP councillors in December requesting the Chief Executive write to the group leader requesting a statement explaining the unregistered donation.

With most Labour councillors abstaining, except Cllr Jimmy Miller who voted with the Conservatives, the motion for a statement to be made passed with 10 in favour and eight against.

Mrs Gibson said: “The Tories in Scotland were fined only £400 over the £100,000 donation of dark money. Such a paltry fine is no deterrent at all. When breaking electoral law carries such derisory penalties, it makes it almost worth the risk for those minded to be dishonest.

“I was sorely disappointed by the response given by the Leader of the House on this matter when I pointed out the need for the Electoral Commission to have more robust powers to deal with the law being broken. We need to be able to follow the money to ensure our democracy is not being bought.

“I was stunned that no Labour MPs turned up for the debate on Tory dark money donations in Scotland, particularly as our local Labour councillors abstained on an SNP motion at a full council meeting, calling for transparency in party donations.

“Labour’s lack of concern about Tory disregard of electoral law also raises yet more questions about the much denied but very clear confidence and supply ar rangements between the Tory and Labour parties in North Ayrshire Council and elsewhere.”

When questioned why councillors abstained on social media after the vote, Cllr Cullinane said: “The motion does not require them to make a statement, the council cannot mandate any group to do so. The motion is powerless.

“It is fact that Tom Marshall does not need to respond to the Chief Executives letter.”

Conservative group leader Cllr Tom Marshall told the Times: “We have nothing to add to our previous statement.”

Conservative Cllr Scott Gallacher said he understood the money came from a trust after the sale of property in Irvine High Street – highlighting the Unionist Club building now occupied by Oor Wulls second hand furniture shop.

Conservative MSP Jamie Greene said: “The Electoral Commission has investigated the donation, and has concluded that the Trust was not exempt in terms of the 2000 Political Parties Act’s reporting requirements.

“The Trustees accepted that they were at fault in failing to register the donation, and paid the £400 fine. The Conservative Party was not investigated nor subject to any fine.”