Scottish civil servants spent more than £14 million of credit card payments in just three years including almost £10,000 on VIP airport upgrades and 21 copies of a book on how to run a government.

Figures obtained from Scottish Labour show that civil servants also bought 21 copies of How To Run A Government So That Citizens Benefit And Taxpayers Don’t Go Crazy, six copies of a book of speeches by Nicola Sturgeon and a copy of the administration’s own original white paper on independence.

The spending includes VIP travel for Ms Sturgeon and her staff during her time as first minister and her staff who used a firm known as Ace Handling, which fast-tracks clients through check-in and security before waiting for their flight in a VIP lounge.

Ace Handling Ltd, based at Gatwick Airport, boasts it will “treat you like royalty”.

It adds: “Whether you’re a VIP or just want to feel like one, Ace Handling is pleased to offer a VIP meet and greet service – airline travel can be a stressful part of your journey. Let us escort you through the airport procedures relieving you from the stress.

“Clients can be met kerbside from their car, then whisked through the check-in, security procedures, to the VIP lounge, and then to your awaiting flight. Choose to be collected from your in-bound flight and escorted through the immigration procedure, bag collection and taken to your awaiting car.”

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Ace Handling was used 12 times by civil servants at a total cost of around £5,000 and coincides with Ms Sturgeon’s trips to Guernsey, the US, London and Bristol.

The Scottish Government also paid £1,605 to Platinum Services for a “meet and greet” at Dublin Airport for Ms Sturgeon, while the former FM twice enjoyed VIP treatment at Schipol Airport in Amsterdam, costing £1,271 and £946.

A total of £9,898 was spent on the former first minister’s airport services, both in the UK and across Europe, between September 2019 and June last year.

Senior government staff are issued with credit-style cards to purchase goods and services with a value of £5,000 per transaction.

But more than £25,000 of fraudulent transactions occurred on the cards and were flagged up for refunds.

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The full breakdown of spending, obtained by Scottish Labour, covers all purchases between September 2019 and August 2022 and included 58,751 individual spending entries.

The Scottish Government said it cannot comment on the former first minister’s travel arrangements for security reasons, but it normally publishes a spending log of all transactions over £500 on its website.

Purchases by senior staff also included yoga classes, nail polish and £4,182 for hospitality and hotel accommodation at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire in September 2019 for a women in sports event.

But the procurement cards also purchased a staff member’s driving theory test, China crockery for a meeting room, a £27 “homedisco” from eBay and £272 on “wellington boots for inspections”.

The total spent on the cards amounted to £14.2 million in the three-year period.

The vast majority of items, however, included everyday purchases for civil servants working from home during the Covid-19 lockdown, including computer monitors.

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But 3,000 entries had no description against them, while more than £25,000 of fraudulent transactions occurred on the cards and were flagged up for refunds.

Michael Marra, finance spokesman for Scottish Labour, said: “These are the spending habits of an arrogant and entitled government with no regard for taxpayers.

“The SNP government is frittering away public money on frivolous payments and VIP treatment while services are stretched to breaking point.

“The SNP must end the financial mismanagement that has plagued their government and start delivering for Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative MSP, Annie Wells, said: “It’s easy to see why the Scottish Government were reluctant to disclose Nicola Sturgeon’s diva-like tastes – but this cover-up is totally unacceptable.

“This was public money – so it is totally wrong that the true figures were not disclosed to taxpayers

“Now that the truth has emerged, it’s up to Nicola Sturgeon to explain why she felt she deserved to be ‘treated like royalty’ at the public’s expense. 

“Some of the spending by Scottish Government staff is equally unacceptable. It’s indefensible that the public should be billed for yoga classes, nail polish or sun lotion. 

“Perhaps if the threshold for declaring expenditure was lowered from the current £500 some of these abuses would be stamped out.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Spending through electronic purchasing cards is used to support government officials during their usual course of work such as on training, catering, room hire and one-off supplies.

“The cards are not for personal expenditure and there are robust authorisation and regular auditing arrangements are in place to monitor their use.

“For security reasons we cannot comment on the first minister’s travel arrangements.”