Scottish Parliament 'has no way to check MSP stamp use' amid SNP WhatsApp probe claims

Royal Mail stamps
-Credit: (Image: In Pictures via Getty Images)

The Scottish Parliament has no way to monitor what MSPs are using taxpayer-funded postage for.

Holyrood officials have admitted they don’t ask MSPs to record how much mail they’re sending out using postage stamps bought using their allowance.

It comes as a probe is underway into allegations of electoral fraud by SNP MSPs.

Leaked WhatsApp discussions from a private group of SNP office managers showed them asking whether postage could be traced and talking about the “stamp fairy” being “very useful for campaigns”.

One employee was so concerned about potential misuse of postage stamps and the potential for fraud that they’ve now complained to presiding officer Alison Johnston and an investigation is ongoing.

They alleged that postage bought by MSPs using their annual £5500 allowance may have been used for political campaigning by the SNP – a move strictly banned under Holyrood rules.

The parliament has now confirmed it has no way to check how much mail MSPs or their staff are sending out using the postage they’re claiming expenses for, or what it’s for. They have delayed publishing the latest round of MSP’s postage claims, citing the General Election as the reason.

Alba party general secretary Chris McEleney said there had to be much more scrutiny in light of the allegations.

He said: “You only have to look at the wild variations in how much MSPs claim for postage to see the reason for much closer scrutiny.

“Parliament should not be covering up this year’s stamp use because there is an election on.

“Voters deserve the full picture, including how much their MSPs have been claiming and how much postage they’ve been using. It’s only a matter of time before the truth comes out.”

Calls have been made to ban the purchase of stamps entirely and make MSPs use the parliamentary franking system, which is cheaper, but Holyrood officials said they won’t allow this.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “We take the use of publicly funded resources very seriously. Officials are investigating whether there has been any mis-use of parliamentary resources. There are no plans however to stop using stamps.”

Don't miss the latest news from around Scotland and beyond - Sign up to our daily newsletter here.