Angus Robertson was given a “secret” wage top-up of £33,000 while SNP Westminster leader, it has been revealed.
The veteran politician received the pay bump after the SNP’s 2015 landslide general election victory in Scotland, when it won 56 out of 59 seats and became the UK’s third-largest party.
Robertson led the party in the House of Commons for a decade until 2017 and is now the Scottish Government’s constitution secretary.
Scottish Labour condemned a “festering culture of secrecy” after it was revealed the £33,000 salary boost was not made public.
It is the latest financial revelation to cause controversy as the SNP faces a Police Scotland probe into its funding that has been detectives arrest former chief executive and Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell and then national treasurer Colin Beattie.
Both men were questioned for nearly 12 hours before being released without charge pending further investigation.
At Westminster, the leader of the opposition, who stands opposite the Prime Minister during PMQs, normally receives a top-up to their MP salary equivalent to that given to a Government cabinet secretary.
Sir Keir Starmer, who currently holds the post as Labour leader, also receives a chauffeur-driven car for use on official business.
According to the Times, SNP bosses at Westminster decided to use the same model to increase Robertson’s wage.
At a meeting at which Robertson was reportedly not present, his salary was boosted by £33,207 – the same as that of a junior minister at the time.
However, senior party figures in Scotland were not informed, according to the Times.
Robertson’s salary boost was funded by short money which is taxpayer cash awarded to opposition parties for their work in the House of Commons based on the number of seats and votes they won.
Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “The SNP must urgently come clean and explain why this publicly-funded top-up was kept hidden for so long.
“If they are ever to regain the nation’s trust, the SNP must kick their addiction to secrecy once and for all, and finally commit to full and open transparency with the Scottish public.”
Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, has urged the SNP to explain why the salary top-up was never registered.
Baillie said: “It is unbelievable that the SNP and Angus Robertson both failed to declare that Mr Robertson’s wages were topped up with public money.
“There must be urgent clarification about why this payment was never registered and why senior figures in the SNP went to such extreme lengths to keep it a secret not just from the public but from other figures in their party.”
On Saturday, the SNP appointed MP Stuart McDonald as the party’s new treasurer after the arrest and resignation of the previous officer bearer Beattie.
McDonald said it was a “difficult and challenging time” amid the ongoing police investigation into how more than £600,000 of party donations earmarked for independence campaigning was spent.
An SNP spokesperson said: “Employment issues relating to the Westminster SNP leader, chief whip and group staff are a matter decided by the group executive.
“Senior leadership remuneration followed the SNP becoming the third party at Westminster and was pegged below comparative UK Government and opposition positions.”
STV News is now on WhatsApp
Get all the latest news from around the countryFollow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp
Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country