Douglas Ross cleared of rule-breaking over football travel expense claims

The Scottish Tory leader was facing allegations he used travel expenses as an MP in his role as a football linesman.

Douglas Ross cleared of rule-breaking over football travel expense claims Getty Images

A parliamentary watchdog has cleared Douglas Ross of any rule-breaking amid claims he used Westminster expenses to travel in his role as football linesman.

Reports in the Sunday Mail at the weekend claimed Ross’ advisers flagged concerns over 28 parliamentary travel claims that may have been combined with his football work.

He was accused of filing for flights from Scotland to London, as well as train travel and parking, for activities not related to his position as the MP for Moray.

Ross serves full-time as an MP and an MSP but also works part-time as a professional linesman.

The outgoing Scottish Tory leader strongly rejected accusations of wrongdoing.

The newspaper had stated that Ross’ aides raised the alarm in November 2021 over expense claims which included a £58 parking fee at Inverness Airport in July 2018 while Parliament was in recess.

It also stated that £43 in rail travel from Heathrow to central London was claimed the day after Ross was a linesman in a match in Iceland.

Claims also include that he expensed a flight from London to Glasgow and £109 parking.

As well as an MP and MSP, the Scottish Tory leader is a football linesman.SNS Group

But on Friday, the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority (IPSA) said after reviewing the allegations it was satisfied that the Scottish Conservative leader’s claims fell within the rules.

A spokesperson said: “We have reviewed Mr Ross’s travel claims, relating to the allegations made in the press, and met with him to discuss the issues that have been raised.

“Following this review, we are satisfied that the claims were within IPSA’s rules and no further action is required.”

If MPs travel between Westminster and their constituency but make a diversion from the normal route for non-parliamentary purposes, such as a family visit or party event, then they can claim for what is described as a “diverted” journey.

The maximum that can be claimed for such a journey is the standard open fare for the direct journey between Westminster and their constituency to ensure that it does not cost more than a normal trip.

On Monday, Ross announced he would step down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives in Holyrood following a row over his decision to contest the Aberdeenshire North and Moray East seat at the General Election.

Ross also confirmed he would quit as a Highlands and Islands MSP if he won the seat.

A Scottish Conservative spokesperson said: “Ipsa have confirmed all of Douglas’ expenses claims were valid.

“His focus is on beating the SNP in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East where he’s spent the day speaking to local voters.”

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