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MSP repays £129 hotel bill expenses claim after losing flat keys at Holyrood

By Philip Murray

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Edward Mountain MSP. Picture: James Mackenzie.
Edward Mountain MSP. Picture: James Mackenzie.

An under-fire Highland MSP has repaid a £129 hotel bill to parliament after a row over his claim for the money.

Edward Mountain, who is a Highlands and Islands list MSP for the Scottish Conservatives, was heavily criticised yesterday after it emerged that he had claimed £129 to cover a hotel room in Edinburgh after he lost the keys to his flat in the city while working at Holyrood.

Although the claim was legal and within parliamentary rules, Mr Mountain was heavily criticised by fellow politicians, who argued it reflected poorly on parliament. Others hit out at him for claiming such money from the taxpayer over his own mistake, rather than paying for the hotel room out of his own pocket.

Moray SNP councillor Jérémie Fernandes was among those to publicly attack Mr Mountain's expenses claim.

Taking to Twitter, he said: "If I lost the keys to my flat and had to spend the night in a hotel, I would think 'Tough, it’s my bad, I’ll just pay for a hotel. I’ll be more careful next time'.

"Not Edward Mountain (worth £5m) who charged the taxpayer £129 for his hotel when it happened to him.

"This is not about party politics, it’s about the fact that this make[s] politicians look bad and people will then look at the system as corrupt, when the vast majority are dedicated public servants.

"How is this a legitimate expense?"

In response to the row, Mr Mountain has now confirmed he has repaid the money, while also stressing that the expense was legitimately claimed and had been made with the approval of the parliamentary expenses process.

He said: “This expense was legitimately claimed and agreed with the parliament upon submission, who were made aware of the precise circumstances. Had they not been satisfied with it, the claim wouldn't have been paid.

“That said, I understand politicians have to be beyond reproach, especially in these times, and have paid the money back to parliament.”

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