A senior SNP MSP has been forced to pay back nearly £3500 in expenses after he sent a dodgy "annual report" to constituents on the eve of the Holyrood election campaign.
Gil Paterson, who was convener of Holyrood’s standards committee at the time of the row, was judged to have breached the Parliament’s allowances guidance.
Up until May, Paterson was a list member for the West of Scotland. He then won the Clydebank and Milngavie seat after defeating Labour’s Des McNulty by around 700 votes.
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In February, Paterson used parliamentary resources to send a report to constituents across the region. These cannot be party political and are supposed to inform citizens about the work of an MSP. However, his publication blasted the “disgraceful actions” of the “Westminster Labour Government” in weakening the Post Office and commended the SNP Government for various policies.
Paterson also claimed that a local hospital had “suffered death by 1000 cuts from the Labour Party”.
Following a complaint by McNulty, the governing Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body investigated the matter after the election was finished.
In September, a Holyrood official wrote to McNulty: “The SPCB, in considering the annual report, decided that while the majority of the report was compliant with the guidance issued by the SPCB there were elements that were not.”
As a result of the finding, Paterson paid back £3200 in printing costs and £290 for postage. He said: “In correcting misrepresentations over local services by Labour MSPs I inadvertently named the Labour Party. The matter has been settled with the corporate body and I will continue to keep in touch with my constituents on issues of importance to them and to their community.”
Asked why the Parliament did not investigate the complaint before the election, a Holyrood spokesman said: “Due to the election, and Parliament being in dissolution, the first opportunity for the SPCB to consider the matter was in June, when it agreed a breach of the guidance had occurred and the member should repay the costs in full.”