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MSP took £500 limo to airport – before flying to one of world’s poorest countries to preach “budget scrutiny”

AN MSP used a taxpayer-funded limo to get to the airport – to take a trip to one of the poorest countries in the world to promote “budget scrutiny”.

Scottish Parliament’s Deputy Presiding Officer Elaine Smith – along with a group of civil servants and MSPs – spent £500 on a return trip between parliament and Glasgow airport last year.

The delegation were travelling to and from the airport as a part of their visit to Malawi in February to deliver workshops for Malawi MPs on “budget and legislative scrutiny and running committee inquiries.”

The taxpayer-funded limo trip is one of dozens made in luxury cars by government officials.

The pricey trip began at Holyrood
The pricey trip began at Holyrood

The full extent of the top-of-the-line transportation used by government bosses has been revealed in files released under Freedom of Information (FOI) laws.

The documents also show that Ms Smith – along with Presiding Officer Tricia Marwick – have been regularly using limos to “commute” between their private homes and parliament.

Mrs Marwick has also used the publically funded car to travel less than two miles to attend the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

The complete documents show that Holyrood spent £24,031 on chauffeur-driven cars between May 2011 and September of last year.

In February of last year Deputy Presiding Officer Elaine Smith – as well as MSPs Liam McArthur, James Dornan and other officials – made the trip to Malawi.

The group’s return limo journey costs a grand sum of £474.50.

But just months later – in November – Miss Smith spoke publicly in Holyrood about the poverty she had witnessed in the country.

She told of the “immense” challenges faced by those living in the county, as well as how the citizens are “desperately poor economically.”

Eben Wilson – head of Taxpayer Scotland – hit out at Miss Smith’s use of the car.

He said: “To take a chauffeur-driven car from Edinburgh to Glasgow Airport and then talk about the horrors of the poverty you have witnessed in Malawi beggars belief – I think a lot of people will see that as obscene.”

Most of the limo journeys on record were for events or functions which the Presiding Officer or her deputies attended on behalf of parliament.

But a total of 19 journeys were between “home and Holyrood”.

Trips from parliament to the home of the Presiding Officer Mrs Marwick’s Fife home typically cost around £100.

Meanwhile Ms Smith’s journeys between her Lanarkshire home and parliament typically costed around £140.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said: “Over her five-year term, the Presiding Officer has typically commuted by train from Fife to parliament.

“On occasion, when required to stay late at Holyrood on official duties, the Presiding Officer will make use of the car service.

“Similarly, Deputy Presiding Officers, when representing the Parliament, or on official duties at unsociable hours, may also make limited use of the car.”

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