No red card for Douglas Ross over failure to declare referee and MSP salaries

DOUGLAS Ross has avoided sanctions after failing to declare thousands in outside earnings with Parliamentary officials.

As revealed by The Herald, the Scottish Conservative leader did not register more than £7000 he earned from his job as an assistant referee last year.

He also failed to declare £8,607.54 of his £21,000 annual MSP salary on the Commons register of financial interests.

Mr Ross, who is also the MP for Moray, reported himself to Kathryn Stone, the Standards Commissioner over the omissions in November last year.

READ MORE: Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross ‘sorry’ and reports himself to Standards Commissioner over undeclared salaries

Since the Herald reported the errors, Mr Ross has updated his register of interests to include the earnings from 17 football matches between November 2020 and October 2021, as well as recording his monthly MSP salary.

He made £7,208.57 from refereeing games in Scotland and one UEFA match in Switzerland – SK Slavia Praha vs Bayer Leverkusen – in that period.

His £1790.83 monthly MSP salary, which is a third of what other MSPs get as Mr Ross holds a dual role, is donated to a local charity and is also now registered with the Commons. 

In her judgement, Ms Stone said the MP did not intend to deliberately mislead the public by his omission, and said she was satisfied that the matter had now been dealt with.

She also noted Mr Ross had “since implemented new procedures to stop these failings reoccurring.”

She said: “Given the number, total value and lateness of the registrations involved, I gave serious consideration to referring the matter to the Committee on Standards for sanction. 

“However, when making my decision I took into account your decision to self-refer, the promptness of your replies and the measures you have put in place to manage your register entry ensuring that there will be no recurrence of these issues.

“Finally, I was also satisfied there was no deliberate attempt to mislead.”

She could have also chosen to refer the matter for further investigation with the Standards Committee, or told the Moray MP to make a public apology in the Commons. 

Mr Ross said: “As soon as I realised this error, I provided the UK Parliament with all relevant details, and reported it myself to the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

“I also apologised at the outset for making this mistake and accepted full responsibility for getting this badly wrong. I want to repeat that apology today and guarantee that it won’t happen again. I have taken steps to stop these failings occurring again.

“My MSP salary continues to be donated to charity and has been declared on time since November, as will any future payments received for football games.”

Mr Ross’s errors emerged at the end of last year, when MPs were under particular scrutiny over their outside earnings.

READ MORE: MP’s second jobs: The Scots raking in thousands on the side

Tory MP Geoffrey Cox QC registered that he had earned more than £1million in legal fees on top of his £81,932 a year MP salary in 2021, working for the British Virgin Islands Government and other clients.

He was reported to have been taking part in Commons debates from the BVI, when parliament was in lockdown during the pandemic.

Mr Cox was subsequently referred to the Standards Commissioner after video footage emerged of him taking part in virtual legal proceedings from his parliamentary office.

MPs are not supposed to use their office or any other taxpayer funded services for outside interests.

READ MORE: Tory MP Geoffrey Cox earned £1m working for Caribbean tax haven during pandemic

Former Tory MP Owen Paterson triggered a wave of criticism when he was found to have committed an egregious breach of the rules by taking £100,000 a year form two firms and lobbying the goevrnment on their behalf.

He subsequently resigned, but not before the Government tried to change the rules on investigations against MPs in an attempt to save him. 


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