The Herald

Ross and Cole-hamilton makes tax returns public after FM call to opposition

- By Kathleen Nutt Political Correspond­ent

DOUGLAS Ross and Alex Cole-Hamilton were the first opposition party leaders to publish their tax returns after the SNP made Nicola Sturgeon’s public yesterday.

The Scottish Tory and Scottish Liberal Democrat leaders released their details hours after the First Minister’s tax matters were revealed on the SNP website.

Mr Ross published his tax return for the year 2021-22, which showed he earned £72,821 as the MP for Moray.

The document also revealed he received £17,223 for his role as a Highlands and Islands MSP.

MSPS who hold a “dual mandate” by also having a seat at Westminste­r only receive a third of the full MSP salary – with the amount Mr Ross received slightly less than that as he was not elected to Holyrood till May of 2021, just over a month after the tax year began in April.

He did not earn any money as an assistant referee that year, as an injury prevented him officiatin­g at any matches.

Mr Cole-hamilton’s return revealed he received £57,378 as a MSP during 2021-22 and in addition also received property income of £2820. He had property expenses of £696.

SNP officials accidental­ly revealed Ms Sturgeon’s bank details as they published the documents.

Six years of returns were released on the party’s website yesterday morning after the First Minister revealed informatio­n going back to 2014. She urged Prime Minister 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.

She added: “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.

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