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Thursday 2 October 2014

Rowling hopes £1m donation will cast spell on Scots to remain part of UK

Simon Johnson and Hannah Furness

Published 12/06/2014 | 02:30

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Calls for unity: JK Rowling gave €1.25m in funding to the group Better Together
Calls for unity: JK Rowling gave €1.25m in funding to the group Better Together

JK Rowling has become the largest financial backer of the campaign against Scottish independence after donating €1m (€1.25m), provoking an angry response from nationalists.

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The author, who was born in England but has lived in Scotland for 21 years, announced the donation to Better Together in a statement in which she compared the more extreme elements of the Yes campaign to the Death Eaters in her Harry Potter books. She said there was a "fringe of nationalists" who "like to demonise anyone who is not blindly and unquestionably pro-independence".

Predicting that many of them would judge her "insufficiently Scottish to have a valid view", she added: "When people try to make this debate about the purity of your lineage, things start getting a little Death Eaterish for my taste."

Death Eaters are the "pure-blood" supremacist followers of Lord Voldemort, who look down on "half-bloods" and human "muggles".

Her declaration of support for the No campaign prompted a wave of abusive messages on social media. "What a #b**** after we gave her shelter in our city when she was a single mum," read a tweet from The Dignity Project, an Edinburgh-based charity which promotes education for children in Africa.

The Scottish Charity Regulator announced an investigation into the comments and the charity said that its account had been hacked.

Other posts by so-called Cybernats described Rowling as a "specky b******", a "Union cow bag" and a "disgrace".

Denial

Baroness Liddell of Coatdyke, the former Scottish secretary, said she was "appalled" by the posts that had brought "shame on my country".

Laying out her case for independence, Rowling speculated whether Scotland could be on the verge of making a "historically bad mistake" by voting for independence.

She said she decided to make the donation after considering evidence from a range of unbiased experts.

Rowling, who is worth about £560m (€700m) wrote: "The more I listen to the Yes campaign, the more I worry about its minimisation and even denial of risks."

In particular, she said she was concerned about the future of medical research in Scotland. The writer has donated a large amount of money to research into multiple sclerosis, from which her mother died.

She highlighted an open letter from world-leading academics at all five of Scotland's medical schools expressing "grave concerns" that independence could jeopardise their research funding.

Her donation is a boon for Better Together, which faced being outspent by the opposing Yes Scotland campaign.

It emerged last month that Yes Scotland is almost entirely bankrolled by an SNP-supporting couple who won the Euromillions lottery.

Chris and Colin Weir have handed over £3.5m (€4.3m) to Yes Scotland since it was founded two years ago.

A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: "While we may disagree with her views, we of course completely respect JK Rowling and her right to express her opinion on the referendum and donate to the No campaign.

"And while we do not agree with her choice, we can all agree with her strong point that if the majority of people in Scotland do vote Yes, then she truly hopes that it is a 'resounding success'."

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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