SNP expenses allegations must be investigated rigorously

SNP leader John Swinney
-Credit: (Image: Getty Images)

Holyrood rules are clear that the expenses system must only be used for parliamentary business.

Public money should never be used for party political activity or election campaigning.

But this is exactly the allegation being probed by Holyrood bosses following the Record’s story last Thursday.

A Holyrood insider provided screenshots of messages by SNP staffers which showed a discussion about taxpayer- funded stamps.

The complainant fears the stamps were being handed to party candidates for the purpose of the General Election.

It is an allegation at this stage which the parliamentary authorities are correct to take seriously.

Rumours have swirled for years that the Holyrood postage system could be abused. There have been muttering that staffers – not just in the SNP – have used stamps for internal selections and letters to party members.

Holyrood has been at the centre of a number of expenses scandals since 1999 but it has always been at the forefront of reform and closing loopholes.

The Scottish Parliament was first to put its expenses system online and clamped down on MSPs being able to hire their relatives.

Holyrood also banned MSPs from buying property through the expenses system – a saga that damaged the institution.

But postage is one area where it feels like loopholes still exist and changes should be made urgently.

Trust in politics is low and the public almost expect parliamentarians to behave badly.

The Holyrood investigation must be rigorous and provide answers to these serious allegations.

Fans still winners

Scotland’s exit from the Euros at the group stages was all too predictable. It follows on from decades of underachievement on the biggest stages in football.

Still no team wearing the famous dark blue jersey has ever progressed to the knockout stages of a major tournament.

It is an abject record for a nation where football is so important to so many. After the awful opener against Germany, hopes were raised when we won a point after a battling performance against Switzerland.

But last night’s defeat against Hungary meant this campaign ended the same way as all the others.

It will be little consolation to the amazing Tartan Army that they have been in many ways the stars of the tournament. Our travelling supporters have been a credit to the country.

It is a pity once again, the team achievements fell far short of what they deserve.

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