Scottish Labour and the SNP have long cosied up to each other when it suits them – including recently on controversial reforms to gender recognition – and Guido can now reveal yet another troubling instance of collusion from these ideological bedfellows. Taking a look at MSPs expenses register, Mairi Gougeon, the Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, has been paying out rent to a name which may well be familiar to followers of Scottish politics. It’s a “Miss K A Dugdale”.
Guido spoke to a member of Mairi’s team who confirmed, to the best of his knowledge, this was in fact Kezia. Mairi paid out over £11,000 to the former Labour leader. She also contributed over £2,000 in council tax and utilities for the same property. All on the taxpayers’ expense. This came predominantly during the pandemic – when many other Scottish ministers were working from home.
To make matters worse, co-conspirators may well be aware that Dugdale is married to Jenny Gilruth, herself a minister in Sturgeon’s government. So Mairi was effectively paying out to a Scottish government colleague, all from the public purse. The Scottish Parliament allowances scheme says MSPs are able to:
“[lease] residential property in Edinburgh, other than from a close family member, another member or connected person.”
In a statement to Guido, Mairi claimed her rent payments were “in accordance with the Scottish Parliament rules of expenses”. Although Kezia herself wasn’t an MSP whilst she was Mairi’s landlord, she was in a relationship with another MSP serving alongside Gougeon in government. Guido will leave it to co-conspirators, and the Ethical Standards Commissioner, to decide if that counts as a “connected person”…