SNP leader in Edinburgh failed to declare hotel ownership

Councillor Frank Ross. Picture: Jane Barlow.
Councillor Frank Ross. Picture: Jane Barlow.
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The SNP candidate who could become leader of Scotland’s capital has been called a “liability” after it emerged he failed to declare his ownership of a Highland hotel.

Frank Ross, currently the depute leader of Edinburgh City Council, initially said he could not remember if he had informed officials that he bought the 11-bedroom property last October, according to The Herald.

However, Mr Ross has since said he will be submitting fresh paperwork to confirm he owns most of a company that paid £160,000 for the Silverfjord Hotel in Kingussie.

Under the Councillors’ Code of Conduct, the business should have been declared under income, property and shareholdings on Cllr Ross’ council register.

He now faces an inquiry by the Standards Commission for Scotland, which has the power to suspend councillors.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is due to launch the SNP’s local election campaign in the capital on Friday with Mr Ross in attendance.

Read more: Pro-Union parties furious at SNP ‘insult’ to Scottishness

Public records show Mr Ross and his family set up Silverfjord Kingussie Ltd in February 2015.

Mr Ross, his wife and their son and daughter were the company’s directors, with Mr Ross owning 82 per cent of the shares and the others owning six per cent each.

The company later acquired the Silverfjord Hotel with finance from RBS.

The hotel was marketed as having five en-suite letting bedrooms, three owner bedrooms and three staff bedrooms, plus a bar-diner for up to 35 people and function room for 40.

Mr Ross, who is standing for re-election in Corstorphine-Murrayfield, has been diligent in updating his register of interests in the past, recording directorships, hospitality and gifts. He also declared a £350,000 second home in nearby Newtonmore.

Asked about the hotel’s absence from his register, Mr Ross said: “It should be on the register. I’ll need to check that. As far as I was concerned, I’d registered it. If I’m being honest, I’ve never gone back and double-checked it’s been put in there.”

Asked if he could remember declaring the hotel, Mr Ross said: “If you want the honest truth, no. But I know I did it, because I always do it.”

On the issue of a possible Standards Commission complaint, he added: “I suppose if somebody’s going to make a complaint, somebody’s going to make a complaint. The fact that it’s not recorded is a fact, and I need to address that now.”

News of Cllr Ross’ failure to declare ownership of the hotel in Kingussie comes after he accused Unionist parties of only calling themselves “Scottish” as a marketing exercise to win votes.

Edinburgh South Labour MP Ian Murray said: “Frank Ross is turning into a complete liability for the SNP. It takes a special level of arrogance to think that you can run Scotland’s capital while you are running a hotel in a completely different part of the country.

“Nicola Sturgeon needs to outline what steps she is going to take to discipline Mr Ross, or if he can stay the SNP’s candidate to lead Edinburgh City Council.”

MA council spokesman said: “Councillor Ross has informed us that he is updating his Register of Interest and will be submitting the relevant paperwork.”

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