Caledonian Sleeper boss admits visiting Scottish holiday home

Serco chief executive Rupert Soames visited his estate in the Highlands despite a Scottish Government non-essential travel ban.

Rupert Soames. Picture: Julie Bull.
Rupert Soames. Picture: Julie Bull.

The news came after The Scotsman revealed yesterday he had travelled from England on the Caledonian Sleeper to visit its staff in Inverness as part of a two-day visit.

Mr Soames is understood to have travelled to his Camusrory estate, north of Mallaig.

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Last month, Scotland’s chief medical officer Catherine Calderwood resigned after visiting her holiday home in Fife.

Camusrory at the head of Loch Nevis. Picture: Richard Webb.

The Scottish Government made clear its disapproval of Mr Soames’ visit to Inverness even before the holiday home trip was revealed.

Its Transport Scotland agency, which controls the Sleeper franchise run by Serco, said yesterday: “We were not aware this visit was happening.

“The Scottish Government advice is absolutely clear – do not travel unless your journey is essential.”

Mick Hogg, Scotland organiser for the RMT union, which represents Sleeper staff, described the latest revelation about Mr Soames as “absolutely astonishing”.

The Caledonian Sleeper website said passengers should only travel on the service if “absolutely necessary”.

It stated: “We would like to remind all guests that they should only book to travel during the period of Government restrictions if it is absolutely necessary.

“We are maintaining our service offering to support those guests who do have essential travel requirements and we ask all other guests to follow the Government guidance of staying at home.”

In a statement issued tonight, Mr Soames said: “I confirm I visited a property I own on the West Coast of Scotland for a short time this week.

“The property is one of the most remote in Scotland, only accessible by boat, and I currently employ three people there.

“The purpose of the visit, which was in my private time, was to conduct essential job interviews with candidates for the vacant position of resident manager, which is a vital role in such a remote community.

“It would be impractical and irresponsible to employ someone for that role without meeting them, or without them having the chance to meet me and to see where they would be living.

“I believe the visit was essential for this small and remote community, and did not breach Scottish Government guidelines as it involves travel to and from a place of work, and could not have been conducted from home.”

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