In November of 2015 several newspapers carried a story about Conservative MSP John Lamont complaining to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland about money received by my company, Caledonii Resources, from Chic Brodie when he was an MSP, and implied that these funds were used to help the independence referendum campaign in 2014 and my General Election campaign in 2015 - all of which was completely false. This was a recurring issue for John Lamont, who has raised it with the press with stunning regularity since 2013.
From 2012 to the start of my election campaign in 2015 I ran my own events/business support company. One of my clients was the then MSP Chic Brodie. All MSPs require staffing to support their work for constituents, including undertaking casework and administrative duties. The majority of MSPs’ staff are employed and paid directly by the parliament, and crucially for this story these details remain confidential [staffing costs of an MSP are not made public], but MSPs are permitted to use contract staff, and Mr Brodie chose to employ one member of parliamentary staff based in Edinburgh, but to contract out his other business needs. The contract between Mr Brodie and my company was scrutinised and cleared by Scottish Parliament officials – including the drawing up of legal documents - prior to any work being undertaken. All money my company received from Mr Brodie was in relation to work carried out under this contract, both by myself and another staff consultant. As the relevant documents quoted in the news articles were released under Freedom of Information legislation, journalists were fully aware that the amounts they quoted were not for my sole use, but conveniently chose not to include these details in their coverage.
The contract between Mr Brodie and my company terminated by mutual agreement some months prior to my becoming a candidate in the 2015 General Election, and my company has been dormant since May 2015. All expenses relating my election campaign were approved by my election agent and submitted to the Electoral Commission, and the rules around campaign donations and spending were fully adhered to. My election campaign was funded entirely by donations, both actual and notional, from a variety of sources.
As I had never received any formal notification of any complaint into my conduct, I wrote to both the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland and the Westminster Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards for clarification. Their responses can be viewed below.
You see, here’s the thing. The Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland cannot investigate MPs – they can only investigate MSPs and Councillors. So why would John Lamont do that? Publicity of course! John did in fact write to the CESPL – knowing full well they couldn’t progress any complaint – BUT – that then allowed him to press release the story of the ‘investigation’. Which he did so at regular intervals from 2013 onwards, each time it was picked up and run, again, by the press!
And as you can see from the letter from Westminster Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards they have never received any complaints about me or investigated my conduct.
In conclusion, I am not now, nor have I ever been, under investigation by either body, or on any issue.
All my expenses were open and transparent and within the rules - these are published online - there seems to be a [deliberate?] myth out there that 'expenses' are something that is paid to the MP as extra - other than travel costs incurred by you, all other expenses are for third parties i.e. staff costs, office running costs like electricity etc and need evidenced before payments are made.
As you can see from the tweets this information was shared over and over and over again – in some cases by the same person - making sure everyone and their dug is tagged in for maximum exposure. Misleading people into believe there has been some sort of wrong doing.
Sadly, once again, the Scottish people has been duped by the establishment and their media machine with the sole purpose of character assassination to push their own agenda.
Footnote: you will see at the bottom the tiny wee apology received from the press after they wrongly reported we [the SNP MPs] were more expensive than our predisessors.