MSPs claimed £12.2 million in expenses last year

Scottish MSPs claimed £270,000 more in expenses that the previous year. Photo by Jayne Wright.Scottish MSPs claimed £270,000 more in expenses that the previous year. Photo by Jayne Wright.
Scottish MSPs claimed £270,000 more in expenses that the previous year. Photo by Jayne Wright.
A knighted Tory landowner charged taxpayers £163 for a night in a luxury hotel and £113 for a taxi ride to an airport, the latest MSPs' expenses returns has revealed.

Sir Jamie McGrigor, former Conservative MSP for Highlands and Islands, claimed a total of £680 for a trip to Norway in May 2015, final-year expenses for 2015/16 shows.

This included £163 for a night in the luxury Grand Hotel Oslo on May 21 and £150 for two nights in the Thon Hotel Oslo on May 22 and 23.

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He then claimed £113 for a taxi to the airport on May 24 - nearly twice as much as his £69 flight home.

The train from Oslo Central Station to Oslo Airport costs about £8.50 and is 10 minutes faster, according to Norwegian state railway operator NSB and Google Maps.

Sir Jamie, who has a sixth share in a £50,000-£100,000 fishing syndicate in Argyll, attended a fisheries meeting and the Norwegian Parliament during his visit.

The Tory - who retired in March this year - earned about £40,000 a year over and above his £59,000 MSP salary, which included up to £25,000 income from a £500,000 flat in London and £5,000 from renewable energy developments on his Argyll farm, according to his final register of interests.

Conservative MSPs topped the expenses list for pricey hotel stays.

Deputy leader Jackson Carlaw had the most expensive night, claiming £175 for a single night in the Doubletree by Hilton in London in December.

Sir Alex Fergusson claimed £160 for a single night in an unnamed hotel in February and £142 for a member of staff to stay at the Holyrood Hotel in June, and Liz Smith claimed £150 for a night in the Hilton Cambridge in October.

Mary Scanlon paid £384 for two rooms in a hotel in Thurso for her and a member of her staff.

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New Scottish Government Europe negotiator Mike Russell claimed £150 in July for a stay in the Colonsay Hotel in Argyll and SNP MSP Mike Mackenzie claimed £142 for a night in the Royal Hotel Kintyre.

Former acting children’s minister Fiona McLeod, who represented the affluent constituency of Strathkelvin and Bearsden, ate the most expensive - and the cheapest - meals.

She claimed £43.50 for one hotel dinner in Edinburgh in September, £43 for another single hotel meal in January and £40 for a third pricey hotel meal in February.

But she demonstrated she could find a budget dinner if necessary, claiming a £2.85 for a hotel meal in October.

Mark McDonald, who is now childcare minister, also claimed £40 for dinner in Edinburgh in May.

SNP MSP Angus MacDonald claimed £61.99 for a book called Northern Neighbours: Scotland and Norway Since 1800 from Amazon. The paperback currently costs £23 from Amazon.

The end-year total for all expenses was £12,770,924, representing a 2.18% increase on the previous year’s figure. This is a rise of £272,203 in cash terms.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Once election-related winding-up costs are taken into account, the rise in 2015-16 expenses is in line with inflation.”