A MEMBER of the SNP’s welfare team at Westminster has been accused of hypocrisy after taking a £3000 donation from a Tory hedge fund boss.

Pensions spokesman Ian Blackford, who last week denounced “callous Tories” over welfare cuts, took the cash from millionaire Conservative donor David Craigen in March.

The money helped bankroll Blackford’s winning general election fight against the late LibDem MP Charles Kennedy in Ross, Skye and Lochaber.

Craigen’s was the biggest donation to Blackford’s campaign, one sixth of all his donations.

Described by the SNP MP as “a friend”, 43-year-old Craigen is a senior manager at hedge fund Lansdowne Partners in London, which manages around £11bn of assets, and is controlled by a parent company in the Cayman Islands.

Craigen’s division, Lansdowne Partners (UK) LLP, last year paid its 21 partners an average of £9m each.

Lansdowne Partners became infamous in 2007 for making £100m betting on the collapse of Northern Rock and the decline of other British banks.

Craigen donated £50,000 to the Tories the same year, then gave another £9000 in 2008.

It is understood Craigen, an ex-analyst at Baillie Gifford in Edinburgh who joined Lansdowne in 2000, remains a Tory backer and gave money to Blackford because of personal ties.

Blackford, 54, also has a background in finance and previously ran Deutsche Bank’s operations in Scotland and the Netherlands before becoming a financial consultant in 2002.

In a Commons debate on tax credit cuts last week, Blackford called the Tory government “heartless”, adding: “This is a Government who cut inheritance tax for those wealthy enough to have £1 million-plus properties and punish those on low incomes.”

Craigen and his wife, the actress Kirsten Lea, live in a £10m house in Belgravia with a swimming pool in the basement and a private cinema.

Craigen’s donation is recorded in Blackford’s candidate spending return and in his parliamentary register of interests.

It was given when Blackford was engaged in one of the ugliest fights of the election, as he tried to oust former LibDem leader Kennedy from the seat he had represented for 32 years.

The LibDems accused Blackford of “bullying and intimidatory behaviour” after he visited their office to complain about a leaflet calling him a “well-funded banker from Edinburgh”.

One of Blackford’s supporters, Brian Smith, later resigned as convener of the SNP’s Skye and Lochalsh branch for calling Kennedy a "drunken slob" and "quisling-in-chief".

In August, the Sunday Herald revealed former LibDem minister Danny Alexander received £1000 from Tory donor Jitesh Gadhia towards his election campaign in Inverness.

At the time, the SNP criticised Alexander for taking Tory cash, saying “after doing the Tories’ dirty work for five years, no wonder they were so keen to keep him in office”.

LibDem MSP Jim Hume said: “The SNP are always quick to accuse others of being bought and sold for Tory gold but it seems they’re happy enough to take Tory cash when it suits them.

"Mr Blackford went to great lengths to deny his background as an Edinburgh banker during the election campaign. Now we know that he was cashing cheques from his Tory friends in the City at the same time. There is more than a whiff of hypocrisy here."

Blackford insisted he didn’t know Craigen had given money to the Conservatives in the past.

He said: “I have no knowledge of him being a Tory. He just gave us a small donation.”

A spokesman for Craigen declined to comment.