AN SNP councillor in Glasgow racked up nearly £5,000 in mobile phone costs after being hit with huge data roaming charges during a trip to the Gambia.

Graham Campbell has agreed to pay back the bulk of the massive bill, which was around one hundred times higher than the amount incurred by many of his colleagues

Tory MSP Annie Wells said: “This is an awful lot of taxpayers money at a time when local government budgets are being slashed by the SNP. The glaring gap between this and other councillors’ bills is pretty astonishing and it’s right that Councillor Campbell should contribute.

“Hardworking taxpayers would expect Councillor Campbell to pay back all of the unnecessary and extreme charges he is responsible for.”

As well as receiving a salary, councillors can claim for expenses including mileage, accommodation when attending events, subsistence and mobile phone costs.

The “telephone/ICT” bill for nearly every one of the Glasgow’s 85 councillors was modest, coming in at under £50. Labour councillor Anne McTaggart, a former Glasgow MSP, had the second highest mobile bill at £606.33. She did not respond to this newspaper’s email.

However Campbell, who was elected to serve the Springburn/Robroyston in 2017, had by far the biggest bill over the 2018/19 financial year.

Campbell, who once stood for Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity party before joining the SNP, cost the taxpayer £4,579 in mobile costs because his data roaming was switched on during a trip to west Africa.

In January, the Gambia Voice newspaper reported that Campbell and his partner, Anne McLaughlin, were part of a Westminster Foundation for Democracy delegation that met the Constitutional Review Commission in the Gambia.

According to the report, the “objective” of the visit was to “generate conversations” with political parties and other key stakeholders on “inclusive and accountable on politics and democracy”.

After the Herald on Sunday contacted the council about the £4,579 bill, Campbell’s total was changed to £62.50. A council spokesman said: “Cllr Campbell has come to an arrangement to repay the excess charges.”

By contrast, senior SNP councillors such as Health and Social Care integration chief Mhairi Hunter, leader Susan Aitken, education convener Chris Cunningham and city treasurer Allan Gow all had modest bills of less than £42.

The mobile row follows press coverage earlier this year over Campbell’s involvement with the now-defunct African and Caribbean Network (ACN) before he was a councillor. A 2013 investigation concluded that had he had transferred £2,000 from the ACN to his partner without the "clear and unambiguous consent" of the board.

The probe found that Campbell’s decision to make a refund to McLaughlin, who had been a volunteer at the ACN, was a “breach of trust”.

However, at the time, a source disputed the report's findings to this newspaper: "At no point is the fact that Ms McLaughlin was owed more than the sum refunded under dispute. The accusation appears to be that the transaction was made without permission. This is not true.

"The payment was made in February 2013 with permission from the 2012/13 board. The accusation was issued by the board elected in May 2013. The chairman of the board at the time of the transaction subsequently wrote to the 2013/14 board expressing concern at the accusations and confirming that this had all been agreed at a board meeting.”