Looking like a cross between Boris Johnson and former Tory minister Michael Heseltine, tycoon Malcolm Scott is nevertheless an unmistakable figure as he pushes back his tousled blond mane.

Despite his unique appearance, the businessman has managed to become one of the largest Scottish donors to the Conservative Party without many people noticing.

Mr Scott, born and raised in Edinburgh, agreed to give his first ever interview after the Sunday Herald started to ask questions about his corporate links to the British Virgin Islands, a tax haven.

Not wanting to be thought of as the Tartan Lord Ashcroft – the Tory peer who refuses to be drawn on his tax status – he made himself available for questions about his business empire, his political views and why he helps bankroll the Tories.

The media-shy businessman bears many of the hallmarks of a Tory millionaire. Privately educated, he lives in a £1.8-million house and owns a private jet that he has allowed Conservative Party leader David Cameron to use.

Mr Scott, who would prefer to be called a “grafter” than a tycoon, bought his father’s grain business in the 1990s and then branched out into property. The Sunday Times Rich List has the 46-year-old worth at least £100 million.

“It’s an optimistic figure. It’s difficult to value assets in this climate,” he says as we sit in the Gospel Literature Outreach Centre in Motherwell. The location has been chosen by his Tory friend Paul McBride QC, who is working there on a fatal ­accident inquiry.

Mr Scott says his entry into the world of the Conservative Party, which appealed because of its pro-business perspective, came almost by chance. “It wasn’t for any great tribal allegiances, as my family are absolutely not political,” he recalls. “I got a phone call in 1997 from somebody in Central Office, asking if I would be interested in helping. Off I went, and ended up meeting some very interesting people.”

Asked what he would have done had Tony Blair made a similar call in 1997, he says: “I think it would have been very interesting. He portrayed what we [the Tories] now see as the future for the country.”

Mr Scott combines a belief in low business taxes with a commitment to the disadvantaged – a mix that means he is comfortable with the “big society” Mr Cameron trumpets in his speeches.

The businessman has contributed financially to the Prince’s Trust and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award scheme, and provides around £25,000 a year to the Centre for Social Justice, a think-tank created by the former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith.

“The way to fix the problems with the underprivileged and deprived is not to throw money at them,”

Mr Scott tells me. “It’s to engage them as human beings and make them understand that, with a bit of confidence and education, they can do it.”

He tells a story about a troubled individual whom he helped put through university.

“I met a guy who was a waiter, very bright, working class, [from a] totally dysfunctional family. He said: ‘I want a degree and I want to get into business, but I can’t do it.’

“So I funded him to get a degree, and he got his degree in business studies. But he’s still not managed to get himself into mainstream life. His father was an alcoholic, his mother was a lesbian, and he really is in a trap.

“Latterly, I found out he was an alcoholic. He told me he did all his work between five and eight in the morning, when he was sober. He’s a bright spark, but what to do with him now – it’s bloody difficult.”

However, it is Mr Scott’s donations to the Conservative Party that may have the biggest impact on ­society. With Tory peer Lord Laidlaw no longer giving money to the party, Mr Scott is perhaps the largest Conservative backer north of the border.

According to the Electoral Commission, which records party donations, the Tories have benefited from at least £1.6 million from Mr Scott and his companies. The married father of three has made personal donations to Conservative Central Office of at least £513,000, around £490,000 of which was handed over since Mr Cameron became leader in 2005.

In the past three years he has also given the Tories around £294,000 in “non-cash” benefits, covering auction prizes, staff salaries and travel costs.

Tory coffers have also been filled with donations from firms owned or controlled by Mr Scott. The party has received around £198,000 from Prestonpans (Trading) Ltd, £539,300 from Philip Wilson (Grain) Ltd, and around £130,000 in donations and non-cash benefits from Dunalastair Estates.

Asked why he makes donations through a variety of companies, he says: “If a company does well, then I would give some money through that company. If it came out of one company, it might be too much of a burden on it. It just depends on which company is doing better at the time.”

Asked if he is aware of the well-­established link between political donations and the doling out of peerages, Mr Scott gives one of his shortest answers of the day. “I will do what the party would like me to do, to better the country.”

He has also given at least £15,000 to the office of shadow foreign secretary William Hague, as well as contributing £5000 to Mr Cameron’s leadership campaign in 2005 through another firm.

“These are personal relationships,” he says. “William, after losing [the General Election] in 2001, and not sure of what he was going to do, said he was going to see how it went. If he had stepped out of politics at that time, we’d still be friends.”

On Mr Cameron, Mr Scott says: “I think he has made the party appeal to people who did not find the Conservatives attractive. There was always a problem in Scotland after Thatcher, but he has made people realise that it is not just a party that is totally about ­business and wealth; that there is a social aspect to politics.”

He also says the continuing under-performance of the Scottish Tories, of which he is treasurer, is due to the legacy of Thatcherism. “There has been a toxic part to the Scottish Conservatives that has taken a generation to lose,” he says. “We still have a problem with the 40-55 age group, because of memories of that. We are losing that now.”

Asked if he believes the hostility in Scotland to Mrs Thatcher is justified, he says: “There’s a wee bit of myth-making, but there were a lot of people who took umbrage at the breaking up of communities that were involved in the old ­industries. That point of view I can totally understand.”

Although the bulk of Mr Scott’s firms are located at his Blair Street base in Edinburgh, the Sunday Herald has established that the tycoon also has business interests in the British Virgin Islands (BVI) tax haven.

The BVI, part of an archipelago in the Caribbean, levies no taxation on capital gains, capital transfer or sales, and VAT does not exist.

Company accounts reveal that one of Mr Scott’s Edinburgh firms is owned by BVI-based Mountain Aviation Ltd, which owns the aircraft that has been used to fly Mr Cameron around the UK.

Scott states that he is “absolutely” tax resident in the UK, and says of the BVI firm: “It’s purely red tape. What we have is a UK company with that particular asset you are talking about, and an offshore entity. It means a much reduced requirement for red tape and paperwork. It’s totally transparent to the taxman, who looks at all my worldwide assets as a domiciled, tax-paying Scot.”

On whether the firm is located in the BVI for tax reasons, he says: “There is no tax benefit to me.”

He also says that his financial interest in another BVI firm, Junction One Investments Limited, has ceased.

Moving back to politics, Mr Scott is critical of the Labour Government’s 50% income-tax rate for higher earners. “I think that’s detrimental,” he says. “If you look at the Laffer curve, which I believe in, you get less tax the more you tax people. It’s a disincentive, and then you lose them.”

Asked whether he would like an incoming Tory Government to axe the policy, he says: “Yes, when economic circumstances provide for that.”

On the subject of Scotland, Mr Scott says the party has set a target of winning three to six seats at the next General Election. “We feel that would be an achievement,” he says.

Mr Scott was also at the recent fundraising dinner at donor Sir Jack Harvie’s house in Milngavie, at which criticism was voiced of Scottish leader Annabel Goldie’s performance. However, he praises the West of Scotland MSP: “I think she has done very well. She is well-respected across the board in the community.”

On whether there should be a referendum on independence, he says: “We’ve [the party] batted this around. This decision should be left to the Scottish Parliament.”

Despite the recession, Mr Scott intends to provide further donations to the Tory party in the run-up to next year’s election.

As he leaves Motherwell in his Range Rover, it is clear that his paternalism places him firmly within the mainstream of Mr Cameron’s Tory Party. “I see myself very much in the mould of where the Conservatives should be: totally community-oriented,” he says. “They lost that. New Conservatism is, ­ironically, similar to the Old Conservatism in the 1960s and 1970s.”

Malcolm James Scott

Born: 13/11/1963

Family: Married with three children

Education: Fettes

Employment: Owner of various firms

Other: Honorary Consulate to

Pakistan in Scotland; Treasurer, Scottish Conservatives