Tory MSP under fire after paying his own firm from public cash

A Conservative MSP has come under fire after it emerged he hired his own IT firm to design his website and claimed the costs back on parliamentary expenses.
MSP Finlay CarsonMSP Finlay Carson
MSP Finlay Carson

Finlay Carson claimed £1,200 in March for web design work carried out by CMS Broadband.

The MSP for Galloway and West Dumfries is listed as a director and shareholder of the firm alongside his brother John Carson.

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Holyrood’s expenses rules state that “a member shall ensure that any claim is submitted solely in respect of the performance of parliamentary duties and is not submitted in order to gain financial or other benefit for the member or any other person”.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: “If there is a breach of the rules, we will of course comply with whatever the parliamentary authorities advise and pay back any costs.”

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman added: “When claiming under the members’ expenses scheme, members are expected to act in accordance with the principles and rules of the scheme.”

Mr Carson was elected to Holyrood last year when he ousted the then Scottish Government minister Aileen McLeod to take the Borders seat for the Tories with a majority of 1,500.

Since then he has not drawn a salary from CMS but remains a director as well as a controlling shareholder alongside his brother.

He is now facing calls to return the money to parliamentary authorities.

SNP MSP Emma Harper said: “At the very least this looks like a spectacular lapse of judgment by Finlay Carson.

“Office budgets aren’t there for MSPs to use as a top-up to their salary or to bankroll their own businesses.

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“Finlay Carson should make clear if he financially benefited from billing the taxpayer to a company in which he is a significant shareholder - and if he did, Finlay Carson should return this money urgently.”