Now the leader of the Scottish Tories is facing a ‘sleaze’ scandal - here’s why

Now the leader of the Scottish Tories is facing a ‘sleaze’ scandal - here’s why

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives is the latest politician to embroil himself in a so-called sleaze crisis after he reported himself over undeclared earnings while serving as an MP.

Douglas Ross has apologised and referred himself to the parliamentary standards watchdog for failing to fully record his MSP salary and earnings as a football referee in his register of interests at Westminster.

Ross didn’t declare the top up salary paid to an MSP who is also an MP, which is £21,490. He also didn’t declare a further £6,728.57 income from 16 football matches in 2020 and 2021 for the Scottish Football Association,The Herald reports.

In a statement, Ross said it was a “genuine mistake” and said all his earnings had now been declared.

Speaking to to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, he said: “It was a bad error on my behalf.

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“I’ve obviously done it [declared earnings] throughout the time I’ve been an MP but there was a period at the end of last year - I’ve tried to work out why - I missed 16 games.

“I don’t know why I did that and I noticed the mistake myself last week. I got in touch with the parliamentary authorities. I worked with them to get the register up to date. I am extremely sorry.

“This was a bad error. It was all of my own making and I tried to rectify it as soon as it came to light.”

Ross donates his MSP salary - which is a third of the usual amount because of his dual role as an MP to various charities like RNLI and Moray Women’s Aid. However, other politicians register charitable interests.

Meanwhile, it comes amid a string of scandals affecting the party - from the Owen Paterson lobbying story to Geoffrey Cox working a second job from the Caribbean during lockdown.

Reacting to the news, SNP Westminster Deputy Leader Kirsten Oswald MP said Ross had put himself “knee-deep in the Tory sleaze scandal.”

She said: “Triple-jobbing Douglas Ross is knee-deep in the Tory sleaze scandal. The rule-breaking Scottish Tory leader must shift his attention from maximising his outside earnings - and start focusing on his role as an MSP, which is supposed to be a full-time job.

“Failing to declare thousands of pounds from multiple side hustles is a clear breach of the rules - but the bigger concern is that Mr Ross isn’t doing the day job. He’s missed crucial votes, including on Tory universal credit cuts, to rake in extra cash running the line at football matches.

“It’s time to blow the whistle on Tory sleaze. People in Scotland deserve better than this - and Mr Ross must finally decide whether he wants to be an MP, MSP or full time referee.”

Meanwhile, people on social media slammed him for the mistake:

However, others defended him given some of the money he failed to declare was donated to charity:

Indy100 has contacted Ross and the Scottish Conservative Party to comment on this story.

He reiterated his remarks, saying: “This was an error on my behalf that shouldn’t have happened, and I apologise for not registering these payments on time.

“Since realising my mistake last week, I contacted the Office of the Register of Interests and made them aware of the situation. All payments have now been declared, including those from my MSP salary that are donated to charities.”

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