Aberdeen Press and Journal

February 9, 2009 Monday

Tory MSP dismisses claims over wife

BYLINE: Jane Candlish


LENGTH: 259 words


A HIGHLAND MSP has rejected suggestions that he has misused taxpayers' money by paying his wife to carry out research.

Jamie McGrigor pays wife Emma to monitor local newspapers, including the Press and Journal, for an hour a day, despite employing a full-time aide.

Prof David Miller, of monitoring organisation Spinwatch, is understood to have complained to parliament's corporate body about Mr McGrigor and called for an investigation.

Speaking to the P&J yesterday, Mr McGrigor said reports his wife gets £6,000 for her duties were untrue and the figure was nearer to £4,000.

He said: "I have asked the Scottish Parliament if it was OK to do this. I see my wife all the time and she can tell me what things I ought to be looking into.

"I have checked with personnel and have always been told it is not against the rules. If they made a rule that you could not employ a relative, then I would stick to it. Relevant

"She looks at the papers and makes a list of anything relevant. I cover eight constituencies and I am trying to find out about issues I should be getting involved with in the Highlands.

"As far as I am concerned it is good value for the taxpayer."

Conservative MSP Mr McGrigor is one of 27 who last year declared the employment of a relative. Mr McGrigor first employed his wife in February 2001, a few months before she gave birth to their second child.

He said he had been criticised a number of times over his expenses in recent months.

Mr McGrigor claimed the second highest amount of expenses from parliament last year, with a total of £44,564.