Nicola Sturgeon racked up huge taxpayer bill for farewell tour to London as she travelled – and stayed – in luxury
The former First Minister flew business class from Glasgow to London and also stayed in a hotel costing more than £500 a night as she undertook a number of self-promotion engagements, including an interview on Loose Women, according to The Scottish Daily Express.
Nicola Sturgeon’s lifestyle has been blasted as “galling” after it was revealed she charged taxpayers more than £1,000 for a one-day trip to London where she travelled- and stayed- in luxury. The former First Minister headed out on a “farewell tour” to the capital in her final week as SNP leader.
But the Scottish Government has revealed that she splashed the cash on a business class return flight from Glasgow to London costing the public purse £715 despite the trip only taking 90 minutes. And she even stayed in a luxury hotel room which cost £515, making the total bill for the jolly £1,230.
During her junket to the capital, she made an appearance on Loose Women where she claimed she had left the SNP in “a quite strong position.” This statement has been called into question following her arrest by police and subsequent collapse in the polls for the nationalist party.
Other engagements she took part in were interviews with Sky and ITV, and a speech to the Royal Society of Arts where she boasted about her achievements and hit out at the polarisation of politics. She also appeared at a breakfast round table event.
She came under fire for refusing an invite to appear in front of Westminster’s Scottish Affairs committee despite being in London that day anyway. The trip was largely seen as a self-promotion exercise for her.
The expensive bookings also fly in the face of Scottish Government rules which state that ministers must make “cost-effective travel arrangements” which are “consistent with ministers’ commitment to reduce emissions.”
Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson also stayed in London that night, but was in a hotel that cost less than a fifth of his former boss’s (£96.50).
Annie Wells, the Scottish Tory MSP for Glasgow, slammed the price tag of the trip, and said that taxpayers would find it “utterly galling” that Ms Sturgeon had run up such a “substantial bill” for a farewell tour during a cost-of-living crisis.
She added: “The former First Minister should have set an example and kept costs of her trip – which included another visit to appear on Loose Women – to a minimum.
“The fact that she also thought it appropriate to take a short and costly business class flight to London also flies in the face of her repeatedly asking the Scottish public to do their bit to tackle the climate emergency while in high office.”
During the trip, she was asked by the Loose Women panel her real reason for quitting so suddenly and said it was because she realised she had served as First Minister for “too long.” This excuse has also been called into question because her husband was arrested a few weeks later by police probing the finances of the party.
The same day (March 20) that she toured TV studios, police requested a warrant to raid the marital home of Ms Sturgeon and Peter Murrell although this was not signed off by the Crown Office until after the end of the SNP leadership contest. Then, on April 5, detectives arrested Mr Murrell, and then on June 11 it was the former First Minister’s turn to be questioned under caution.
Former SNP treasurer Colin Beattie was also grilled by cops and arrested, but all three were released without charge. Ms Sturgeon has publicly denied any wrongdoing.
An Scottish Government spokesman said: “Travel is an essential part of official Government business. All travel costs are in accordance with travel and subsistence policies to ensure we deliver the best value for money possible for the Scottish taxpayer. The Scottish Government takes its responsibility to travel sustainably very seriously and aims to use sustainable forms of transport whenever possible.
“Any business flights taken by Scottish Government Ministers and employees are offset by a carbon levy. The levy is used to fund carbon reduction projects that compensate for the carbon emissions generated.
“Ministerial transport for the 23 March was planned in accordance with the guiding principles set out at paragraph 9.2 of the Scottish Ministerial Code. This included important considerations around security, cost and the secure transportation of confidential or sensitive Government material.”