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MSP’s defends using expenses to rent son’s flat.
ONE of Holyrood's richest MSPs has defended charging taxpayers £7000 a year to rent his son's flat as overnight accommodation.
John Home Robertson, the Labour MSP for East Lothian, said the parliament's allowances office had approved his £600-a-month rental of a flat in Tytler Gardens in Edinburgh's Abbeyhill district. The property was bought outright for £72,000 by Mr Home Robertson's 17-year-old son in April 1999, just a few days before his father was elected.
In addition to rent, the MSP has also charged the public for council tax on the property.
The payments were made under the controversial Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance scheme, which lets MSPs claim back the rent or mortgage interest on homes in Edinburgh.
Although Mr Home Robertson's constituency adjoins Edinburgh, he is able to claim for overnight stays at the flat because his home is more than 90 minutes' travel from the parliament. In 1988, he gifted Paxton House in Berwickshire to the nation, but still occupies a wing of the building, which is one of Britain's finest country homes.
His rental of his son's flat was uncovered by the Sunday Herald, the Herald's sister paper. The MSP responded: "It is a matter of public record that I lease a flat in Edinburgh and that the rent is paid under the Scottish Parliament's Edinburgh Accommodation Allowance scheme. The Parliament authorities have a copy of the lease of the flat, the rental was independently assessed, and this arrangement was fully approved by the Allowances Office from the outset."
Tommy Sheridan, the Glasgow Solidarity MSP, said the scheme was "fundamentally rotten" and open to abuse.
"This flat has been paid for by taxpayers' money. I demand that the Scottish Parliament take action."
His 17-year old son paid £72,000, did he ? I couldn't begin to imagine where that money came from.
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