ALEX Salmond has dismissed criticism of a $2,000-a-night Ryder Cup stay at an “upmarket” US hotel frequented by stars like Justin Bieber and Beyonce as “ridiculous frippery.”
The First Minister came under fire from Labour leader Johann Lamont over his stay at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago during the 2012 golfing showcase.
Ms Lamont said the SNP leader has failed to account for £54,000 of Government spending at the trip and demanded answers during First Minister Questions today.
The total cost of the trip was about half-a-million pounds, but tourism quango Visitscotland has explained more than £400,000 of this. The Scottish Government insists the efforts to promote Scotland saw millions of pounds of investment and job creation.
The Labour leader called on Mr Salmond to explain why he wanted to stay in a “more up market hotel” than the rest of the Scottish delegation.
“The First Minister reportedly upgraded himself - at our expense - to stay in a hotel frequented by Beyonce, Brad Pitt and Justin Bieber.”
The Labour leader said the The Peninsula Chicago describes itself as being “for those who love to spoil themselves with a luxurious five-star experience without losing that comfortable home away from home feeling.”
Ms Lamont added: “In the real world the people of Scotland will be disgusted at how the First Minster treats himself at their expense.”
But Mr Salmond said there was 17 people in the Scottish Government delegation, including officials from Scottish Enterprise and industry officials.
He insisted the visit was not just about the Ryder Cup, but a range of events in Chicago to attract investment to Scotland.
“The investment in Scotland announced in that trip was worth tens of millions of pounds and brought jobs to many areas of Scotland,” Mr Salmond said.
A further oil and gas round table discussion also resulted in more jobs.
“The reason this Government is in office is because we focus on the things that matter to the people of Scotland,” he said.
“That’s jobs and growth - not this ridiculous frippery we get from Johann Lamont.”