Nicola Sturgeon’s bank details published alongside tax returns
SNP officials accidentally revealed Nicola Sturgeon’s bank details as they published her tax returns.
Six years of returns were released on the party’s website today after the First Minister revealed information going back to 2014. She urged Rishi Sunak and Scottish opposition leaders to follow her example.
However, the page showing the documents on the SNP website was swiftly deleted after the party was alerted by journalists to the personal and sensitive information having been published.
It was later re-published with the account number blanked out, along with a pension scheme tax reference number which had also been visible.
The documents show that Ms Sturgeon’s only source of income is her salary as First Minister, which now stands at £163,229, and that she earns a very small amount of interest from a Bank of Scotland account.
She is taxed on her full salary but receives the value of her 2008-09 pay under a freeze agreed by the Scottish Government after the SNP took power.
“These documents show clearly that my sole source of income is my job as first minister, the office which I have the immense privilege of holding,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“I hope other party leaders, including the Prime Minister, will follow suit in an effort to promote transparency in public office.”
Since April 2009, Scottish ministers have frozen their pay and declined to accept their full salary entitlement, with the remainder going towards public spending.
The SNP said this meant the First Minister will forgo more than £27,000 of her salary in the current financial year.
The documents were published just ahead the First Minister's latest press conference from St Andrew's House in Edinburgh where she is due to face questions on a growing controversy over the Scottish Government's gender recognition reforms and on an ongoing row over transgender prisoners.
The release of the information also comes after a poll published yesterday showed Ms Sturgeon's popularity has slipped in the wake of the bitter debate and that support for independence as well as for the SNP at Holyrood and Westminster has dropped.
Amid the rows Ms Sturgeon has also faced speculation over how long she will remain as SNP leader and First Minister.
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Ms Sturgeon said: "I previously committed to being open and transparent to the people of Scotland about my own earnings. Today's publication makes good on that commitment.
"These documents show clearly that my sole source of income is my job as First Minister - the office which I have the immense privilege of holding.
"I hope other party leaders - including the Prime Minister - will follow suit in an effort to promote transparency in public office."
Ms Sturgeon promised to publish the tax returns filed while First Minister after failing to live up to a commitment she made in 2016.
Last month she agreed to publication after being asked about her original promise at a Scottish Government press conference.
She said she would publish the return for the most recent complete tax year (2021/22), and when pushed also agreed to publish all the other years.
Publication would put pressure on other political leaders to follow suit, although Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly promised her returns and then failed to issue them in the past.
Most recently, she told a show on the Edinburgh fringe in August that she was “more than happy to publish tax returns”, but did not do so.
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Ms Sturgeon first promised in April 2016 to release her tax returns each year after filing them, and began by releasing her return for 2014/15.
At the time, many senior politicians published tax returns after then Tory Prime Minister David Cameron was embroiled in a row over tax avoidance.
It followed the Panama Papers scandal, when millions of files dating back to the 1970s were leaked from the Panamanian legal and financial firm Mossack Fonseca, including details of an offshore fund set up by Mr Cameron’s father in 1982.
The YouGov survey of 1,088 Scottish voters for the Sunday Times shows support for independence fell from 53 per cent to 47% among decided voters.
Among those decided voters, those who said they would vote against independence in another referendum rose from 47% to 53%.
Meanwhile, support for the SNP dropped from 50% to 44% in the Holyrood constituency vote and from 40% to 36% in the regional list.
In terms of the First Minister's popularity, Scots who viewed her as somewhat or very favourable fell from 50% to 44%.
Overall, her approval rating fell into the negative from +7 in October to -4 in the most recent poll, carried out from January 23 to January 26 as the row over Isla Bryson, who was convicted of raping two women when known as Adam Graham, was sent to a women's prison, erupted.
Despite the drop, she remains by far the most popular political leader.