SNP facing investigation over claim of 'misuse' of election mail stamps bought through Holyrood expenses

Scottish Parliament authorities are investigatingScottish Parliament authorities are investigating
Scottish Parliament authorities are investigating
The SNP is facing a Holyrood probe over postage stamps allegedly bought using MSPs’ expenses being handed to general election candidates for campaigning purposes.

The SNP is facing a Scottish Parliament investigation over the alleged misuse of postage stamps purchased using MSPs’ expenses.

An anonymous complaint, which appears to have been made by an SNP staffer, was sent to presiding officer Alison Johnstone.

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It is believed that Holyrood officials are examining the claims and are likely to question those linked to the allegations. Holyrood’s corporate body is a small cross-party group that oversees the running of the parliament and the enforcement of rules, including around expenses.

In an email, seen by The Scotsman, the whistleblower claims that stamps bought on parliamentary expenses had been passed to SNP general election candidates for campaigning activities, such as sending letters to voters.

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The Scotsman has also seen WhatsApp messages from a group chat named ‘Office Manager Chat’ where one person named as ‘Paul’ posted a messed that read: “Guys, the new stamps. Can they be traced?”

Asked by a person who works in former first minister Nicola Sturgeon’s office if he was referring to “who purchased them and what they’re being used for”, the person who wrote the initial message said: “Can they be traced back to who purchased them?”

A member of SNP deputy leader Keith Brown’s office said she had “asked Rab in the mailroom and he said no”.

Another staff member appears to say that they were not aware of the stamps being traceable. But someone from the office of SNP Social Justice Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, replied: “If they can then a few people may be up in front of corporate body…”

There is no suggestion that either Mr Brown, Ms Sturgeon or Ms Somerville were aware of any issue regarding stamps.

MSPs can spend up to £5,500 a year on postage and stationery. Holyrood rules state that they “must be used only for parliamentary duties and must not be used for any other purpose, including party political purposes”.

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In the email to Ms Johnstone, the complainant said: “I am anonymously sharing a screenshot from the SNP office managers’ WhatsApp group chat due to my concerns that several MSPs are using stamps paid for by Scottish parliament expenses to pass to UK parliament election candidates for campaign activities such as sending target letters to hard-to-reach addresses.

“I’m concerned about this open discussion involving several members’ offices.”

A spokesman for the SNP Holyrood group said: “The parliamentary rules are crystal clear that materials, including stamps, can only be used for parliamentary purposes such as representing constituents and campaigning on their behalf.

"These exchanges, whilst obviously light-hearted, are being investigated as is appropriate and we would expect the offices of MSPs of all parties to cooperate with the parliamentary corporate body.”

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “We take the use of publicly funded resources very seriously. Officials are investigating the matter to establish whether there has been any misuse of parliamentary resources.”



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