Highlands and Islands MSP apologises following failure to fully record earnings
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DOUGLAS Ross has apologised after he failed to fully record his MSP salary and earnings as a football referee.
The Scottish Conservatives leader and MP for Moray failed to declare £28,218.57 in outside earnings in his register of interests at Wetminster.
This included £6,728.57 for work as a match official in 16 games between November 2020 and January 2021. The figure also included £10,745 which Mr Ross earned as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands over the past six months.
Mr Ross said: "I am genuinely sorry. As MP for Moray I treat my role very seriously and I've let myself down by not keeping my register up to date. I'm annoyed at myself and I'm sorry.
"I've done everything possible to rectify that and I've also referred myself to the standards commissioner. I think that it is right that they look into this and I will work with the standards commissioner if they feel ready to launch a further investigation and I've also provided them with all the details needed in this case.
"I want to be as open and transparent as possible to hold my hands up and say 'I got this wrong and no one else is to blame'. I fully understand the criticism that's coming my way from political opponents and others."
Mr Ross referred himself to the standards commissioner after declaring for a trip just over one week ago. It was while submitting this update that he noticed the full extent of his oversight.
Mr Ross said: "I was declaring a recent trip and it was when I was submitting my update that I thought I'll just check everything else is in order since this is the first thing I have registered in a year and at that point I realised there were a few games missing there and when I went back to check I realised the extent of it was actually 16 games.
"I haven't tried to hide the fact that I get paid to referee. I've never tried to hide anything, it was a genuine oversight, a bad mistake on my behalf but as soon as it became apparent I got in touch with the parliamentary register. I've been in discussions with them to make sure my register was fully up to date and I've now submitted all the information they were looking for."
Mr Ross also defended his role as an MSP, noting that he has donated his monthly salary to various charities and does not benefit financially in that role.
Mr Ross added: "The other element to this is obviously my MSP salary and again I have never hidden the fact that I was an MSP or that I was paid to be an MSP but I've also been very clear that I've donated my monthly salary to local charities so although that should have definitely been registered I didn't financially gain in any way from the sums that are associated with my MSP salary."
Richard Lochhead, SNP MSP for Moray, criticised Mr Ross and called on him to resign as Moray's MP after the news broke this morning.
Mr Lochhead said: "Once again Douglas Ross is on the front pages with an apology linked to his three jobs and this time he's engulfed in the sleaze scandal that has paralysed the Conservative Party.
"Our local Tory MP somehow managed to forget about nearly £30,000 of outside earnings yet did remember to turn up and vote to reduce the income of thousands of Moray families by £20 a week in the recent Universal Credit vote and local voters will be aghast that this can happen.
"Douglas Ross needs to move beyond repeated apologies for failing to manage his three jobs and choose which one he wants to do. He must resign as Moray's MP if he intends to stay on as an MSP.
"We've had apologies for missing key votes in Parliament, missing local ceremonies with veterans and so the list goes on. If he insists on staying on as both an MSP and MP which in this day and age is unacceptable never mind his other job as a linesman, his arrogance and hypocrisy will be his downfall.
"We need better standards from our MPs and Mr Ross has let down the people of Moray once again. He's always the first on his feet calling for resignations and inquiries even for unsubstantiated misdemeanours."