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Lottery Winners Take On J.K. Rowling in Scottish Vote Donations

Author J.K. Rowling
A file photo shows author J.K. Rowling at a Harry Potter book signing in Hollywood, on October 15 2007. Rowling said she had made a “substantial” contribution to the Better Together group, which wants to keep the U.K. intact. Photographer: Toby Canham/Getty Images

July 8 (Bloomberg) -- A Scottish couple who hit the lottery jackpot are battling with J.K. Rowling over the U.K.’s future.

Colin and Christine Weir, who won 161 million pounds ($275 million) three years ago, gave 500,000 pounds each in February to the Yes Scotland campaign for independence from the U.K., according to a list of donors published today. The Better Together group, which wants to keep the U.K. intact, puts the Harry Potter author as its biggest benefactor, with a donation of 1 million pounds. Rowling said last month she had made a “substantial” contribution to the campaign.

With a little over two months before the Sept. 18 referendum on Scottish independence, polls show more people want to remain within the U.K. than end the 307-year-old union with England.

The donations and loans received by campaigners total 3.97 million pounds and were disclosed to the Electoral Commission, which published the details today. It was the first of four reports on funding and covered the period Dec. 18 to June 26. The next will be on Aug. 5, it said.

The “yes” campaign received 1.46 million pounds in total over that time, while the “no” campaign got 2.51 million pounds, according to the figures.

Other supporters of independence include Brian Souter, chairman and co-founder of Scotland-based transport operator Stagecoach Group Plc. He gave 100,000 pounds as an individual to Business for Scotland and the same to Christians for Independence, according to the report.

After Rowling, a Scottish resident, the largest donations by individuals to Better Together are from Christopher Sansom, Ian Seafield and Andrew Fraser. No details were disclosed about them. Corporate donors included William Grant & Sons Ltd., the maker of Glenfiddich malt whisky.

To contact the reporter on this story: Rodney Jefferson in Edinburgh at r.jefferson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Heather Harris at hharris5@bloomberg.net Thomas Penny, Eddie Buckle

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