SCOTLAND’S public spending watchdog should investigate Alex Salmond’s trip to the Ryder Cup two years ago if he doesn’t “come clean” about the full costs, Labour has said.
It emerged yesterday that the First Minister, pictured, was charged £2,956 for a four-night stay in a luxury suite at the five-star Peninsula Chicago hotel.
Most of the Team Scotland delegation stayed at a more modest hotel costing about £60 a night and the trip has prompted angry clashes at Holyrood. The overall cost of Scottish participation was £468,580. Tourism quango Visitscotland was heavily represented to promote Scotland hosting the Ryder Cup this Summer in Gleneagles and has provided a £414,731 breakdown of the costs.
Labour MSP Paul Martin said: “It is time for Alex Salmond to come clean about his Chicago trip. Everyone in Scotland will be asking themselves, what does Alex Salmond have to hide? If he won’t come clean we need an Audit Scotland investigation into what he spent our money on.”
A Freedom of Information request has been rejected by the Scottish Government on the basis it could jeopardise the First Minister’s safety.
The visit incorporated ministerial visits and business meetings, with the 36-strong delegation including representatives of VisitScotland, EventScotland and Scottish Development International, as well as the Scottish Government.
External affairs secretary Fiona Hyslop insisted in a written parliamentary response earlier this year that “every effort was made to minimise costs” on the trip. This included liaising with partner organisations to secure preferred rates. The trip was aimed at maximising the “economic benefits” of hosting the Ryder Cup, which will generate at least £100 million for the economy.