Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross reports himself to sleaze watchdog over failure to declare MSP and football earnings

Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross has reported himself to Westminster’s sleaze watchdog over previously undeclared earnings.

The Moray MP, who sits in both the House of Commons and the Scottish Parliament, failed to register payments for his salary as an MSP and his work as a football match official.

The 38-year-old was late in declaring payments worth £6,728.57 received for 16 football games. And he also failed to declare five months of his MSP salary, amounting to £8,607.

The SNP claimed Mr Ross was “knee-deep in the Tory sleaze scandal” that has rocked Westminster ever since the Owen Paterson lobbying controversy.

Mr Ross earns £81,932 a year as an MP and, as he is also a member of the Scottish Parliament, he receives a £21,490 top up salary for his work at Holyrood.

He was elected as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands in May this year, nine months after becoming Scottish Conservatives leader, while he has been an MP at Westminster since 2017.

Mr Ross’ MSP salary is paid to charities, with payments having been made to the RNLI in Buckie, Keiran’s Legacy, Riding for the Disabled, Moray Women’s Aid and Shopmobility Moray.

However, there is no mention of Mr Ross’s MSP salary in his latest register of interests at Westminster.

Since becoming an MP, Mr Ross has regularly declared payments from both the Scottish Football Association and UEFA for his work as a football match official, which has previously seen him skip House of Commons debates.

According to The Herald newspaper, the football payments that Mr Ross failed to declare were for 16 matches between last October and January this year.

The last football payment to have been noted on his register of interests was £1,035.32 for a match between Luxembourg and Cyprus in November last year.

Mr Ross, who replaced Jackson Carlaw as Scottish Conservatives leader in August 2020, is understood to have been injured since January and not officiated any professional games since then.

He has now referred himself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards over his late declaration of payments and provided officials with the details of his earnings.

“This was an error on my behalf that shouldn’t have happened, and I apologise for not registering these payments on time,” Mr Ross said in a statement.

“Since realising my mistake last week, I contacted the Office of the Register of Interests and made them aware of the situation.

“All payments have now been declared, including those from my MSP salary that are donated to charities.”

The SNP’s deputy Westminster leader Kirsten Oswald criticised Mr Ross over his “triple-jobbing”.

“The rule-breaking Scottish Tory leader must shift his attention from maximising his outside earnings – and start focusing on his role as an MSP, which is supposed to be a full-time job,” she said.

“Failing to declare thousands of pounds from multiple side hustles is a clear breach of the rules – but the bigger concern is that Mr Ross isn’t doing the day job.

“He’s missed crucial votes, including on Tory universal credit cuts, to rake in extra cash running the line at football matches.

“It’s time to blow the whistle on Tory sleaze. People in Scotland deserve better than this – and Mr Ross must finally decide whether he wants to be an MP, MSP or full time referee.

“By desperately clinging onto his Westminster seat, Mr Ross has scored an own goal.

“Voters are not impressed, and people will rightly question whether he’s doing it to make more money or because he’s secretly planning to quit as an MSP when he’s inevitably replaced as Scottish Tory Leader.”

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