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Scottish Tory leader denies wrongdoing over ‘dodgy’ expense claims

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The paper says his team identified 28 “dodgy” claims he made to the Westminister authorities.

READ MORE: David Duguid: Scottish Tories drop hospitalised candidate

Only travel from an MP’s declared home airport – Inverness or Aberdeen for Mr Ross – can be claimed as constituency travel.

Any other travel must be classed as a “diverted journey” and MPs must provide detailed notes alongside every claim to explain why it was diverted.

Some of the dozens of cases identified by Mr Ross’s team in November 2021 include £58 parking at Inverness airport in July 2018 while parliament was in recess and £43 rail travel from Heathrow to central London the day after Ross refereed a match in Iceland.

In October 2019, he claimed for a flight from London to Glasgow and for £109 parking with NCP car parks.

On November 1, 2020, he claimed £48.99 for parking the day he refereed a Celtic game.

A senior Tory source told the paper his team discussed the travel claims when contacted by journalists but hoped nobody would pick them up.

The Sunday Mail said they had seen messages from November 2021 which saw Mr Ross’s closest aides refer to them as “dodgy” and suggest they “bluff ” it out.

The leak to the press comes after Mr Ross replaced ousted David Duguid as the candidate in the new Aberdeenshire North and Moray East constituency.

On Wednesday night, the party’s Management Board stopped the former Scottish Office minister from contesting the new seat as they claimed he was too ill.

Mr Ross then announced his intention to “lead from the front” and stand instead.

However, Mr Duguid has insisted that the party’s claims he is “unable to stand” due to ill health are “simply incorrect”.

READ MORE: FM ‘genuinely disgusted’ by Tory treatment of David Duguid

A party insider said: “The latest antics from Douglas are a disgrace and he should be ashamed of himself.

“He has always wanted to stay at Westminster and he’s completely screwed over a hard-working colleague to get there. Many of us are disgusted with it.”

Scottish Labour deputy leader Jackie Baillie said: “After his response to Matheson’s iPad scandal, it is height of hypocrisy if Douglas Ross has also been attempting to rip off taxpayers.

“These dodgy claims need an urgent explanation.”

The SNP said: “This revelation will come as no surprise after the recent shameful behaviour of Douglas Ross, however further scrutiny is clearly needed. He needs to urgently explain whether he has been using taxpayer money to pay his expenses for his third job as a linesman.”

Mr Ross said: “I have only ever claimed expenses related to my role as a member of parliament and the costs of getting me to and from Westminster. “These have all been agreed by IPSA, the independent body that oversees MPs expenses, but I would have no issue with them being scrutinised again.”

Meanwhile, in social media message, Mr Duguid denied he was “seriously ill.”

The ex-MP has been in hospital for an illness affecting his spine since early April, including a stay in a high-dependency unit.

He initially spent four weeks in the intensive care unit at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary before being moved to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Glasgow to complete his recovery.

Mr Duguid first made his illness public at the end of May when Rishi Sunak called the snap vote. The MP said at the time his intention was to contest the seat.

Writing on Facebook on Saturday, he said he had “reached another important milestone” in his recovery.

“I went to the hospital shopping ‘arcade’ in my wheelchair and bought some newspapers. I was a bit surprised to see so many of them describe me as ‘seriously ill’. That was true when I was in intensive care in ARI a month ago. But certainly not now.

“I continue to be fully focussed on my rehabilitation and making great progress daily.

Rose and I followed up our shopping spree with a coffee in one of the cafes. It was great to be ‘out and about’ again. The feeling of normality was wonderful.”

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