SCOTLAND’S richest MSP has been found guilty of breaking Holyrood’s code of conduct.

Tory aristocrat Alexander Burnett, who is worth more than £40m, failed to declare a registered business interest when submitting written parliamentary questions.

The Crown Office was informed of the breach over the summer but declined to prosecute.

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The parliament’s standards committee has now admonished the Aberdeenshire West MSP, saying it did not consider the breach severe enough to justify a further sanction.

In theory, it could have ordered 44-year-old Mr Burnett, whose full name is Alexander james Amherst Burnett of Leys, be suspended from parliament.

But it was “minded to be lenient” as the breach occurred before MSPs had been reminded about the need to declare interests in March.

The finding followed an investigation by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, after a complaint by SNP Aberdeenshire councillor David Aitchison.

Cllr Aitchison claimed three questions Mr Burnett tabled in February about business rates involved a conflict of interest because of the MSP’s own property business.

The Commissioner ruled two questions did involve a potential conflict, and that Mr Burnett should have flagged this up when lodging them, but failed to do so.

Mr Burnett blamed an error by a member of his staff, but said he took full responsibility for a gap in her training and apologised for the mistake.

He rejected any suggestion he tabled the questions out of self-interest.

He also suggested the complaint was politically motivated, telling the Commissioner it was the third in as many months from an SNP member “to attempt to impede my abilities to represent my constituents and waste public time and money”.

Clare Adamson, SNP convenor of the standards committee, said: “The Committee is unanimous in the decisions reached on the complaint.

“Firstly, it agrees with the findings in fact and conclusion of the Commissioner.

“Secondly, it admonishes Alexander Burnett for his failure to make a declaration of a registered financial interest when giving notice of two Parliamentary Questions.

“The Committee does not consider that the breach justifies the imposition of sanctions on Alexander Burnett on this occasion.

“However, the Committee will consider the full range of sanctions available to it for any future breaches of this nature.”

Mr Burnett, who was elected in 2016, is estimated to have the largest fortune of any MSP, jarring with Ruth Davidson's attempts to portray the Scottish Tories on the side of the everyday voter.

The businessman’s register of interests runs to more than 1000 words.

He is the beneficiary of multi-million pound Trusts, owns a property empire worth £20m and will continue to earn upwards of £100,000 for a maximum one day a month's work.

He is the sole owner of the AJA Burnett Estate in Aberdeenshire which has agricultural land, residential and commercial lettings as well as recreational, sporting and forestry interests.

The market value is worth around £10m, generating an annual income of up to £650,000.

Mr Burnett is expected to pay himself between £115,000 and £120,000 in 2016/17, despite expecting to spend a maximum of one day a month in the business.

He is a trustee and sole beneficiary of the Banchory Trust, which owns property in Aberdeenshire with a market value of between £14.6m and £14.7m.

He is also a trustee and potential beneficiary of the Fordie Trust, with property worth £4.5m.

While the trusts generate annual income of around £430,000 and £75,000 respectively, he says he does not expect to receive any income from either in the current parliament.

In addition he owns £10m of shares in the North Banchory Company, a property letting and development firm; £5.5m of shares in Bancon Developments Holdings Ltd, another property firm; almost £1m of shares in energy firm Hill of Banchory ESCo Ltd; and a further £140,000 of shares in another property business, the Inchmarlo Land Company Ltd.

His basic salary as an MSP is £61,778.

An SNP source: "Quite rightly, Alexander Burnett has been hauled over the coals by Holyrood's standards committee for breaking strict parliamentary rules.

"He's lucky to escape with just a warning on this occasion. 

"His constituents are fast realising he's a politician out for himself and not standing up for their interests - and that wafer thin majority he holds in Aberdeenshire West will only be narrowing at this rate." 

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: "Mr Burnett accepts the findings of the committee. This was an administrative error that will not happen again."