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Ross salary row

Tory leader admits ‘mistake’ over undeclared income


Douglas Ross: ‘genuine mistake’ (pic: Terry Murden)

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has referred himself to the Westminster authorities after he failed to declare more than £28,000 in external earnings.

The income included £21,290 in salary from his role as a Holyrood list MSP – a third of the standard MSP salary due to his dual role as an MP. He donates this sum to charity.

The remainder – £6728.57 – came from his duties as a referee at 16 football matches between October and January 2021.

Mr Ross, MP for Moray in north east Scotland, did not record the income in the House of Commons register of interests.

He said the omissions were a “genuine mistake” and he has now referred himself to the Parliamentary Standards Commissioner.


The MP has not refereed any matches since January, partly due to a sporting injury and also due to his election as an MSP in May.

Mr Ross’s mistake was exposed by The Herald and comes amid a growing controversy over MPs’ income from second jobs, particularly where there may be a conflict of interest.

When asked about the omissions, Mr Ross told the paper: “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.”

He has now referred himself to the Standards Commissioner Kathryn Stone, who investigates breaches of the MPs’ code of conduct, and has also registered all the funds with the parliamentary officials responsible.

Ms Stone could recommend Mr Ross make a public apology in the Commons, or other sanctions including a suspension.

The SNP has accused Mr Ross of being “knee deep in Tory sleaze” and said he should drop his “side hustles” and concentrate on Holyrood.

Kirsten Oswald, the party’s deputy Westminster leader, 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.”

She said it was “time to blow the whistle on Tory sleaze” and added that Mr Ross should “finally decide whether he wants to be an MP, MSP or full time referee.”

The so-called sleaze row has so far forced Tory MP Owen Paterson to resign, while Sir Geoffrey Cox was revealed to have earned more than £1m in legal fees in the last year, working for the British Virgin Islands Government among others.

Sir Geoffrey has now been referred to the Standards Commissioner after video footage emerged of him taking part in virtual legal proceedings from his parliamentary office.

MPs are not supposed to use their office or any other taxpayer funded services for outside interests.

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