McAlpine cleared of expenses breach

Nationalist MSP Joan McAlpine has been cleared of wrongdoing following accusations she breached ­parliamentary rules over expenses.

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The South of Scotland member had referred herself for ­scrutiny by Holyrood's corporate body amid wider allegations about her private life.

Her solicitor Aamer Anwar said the matter is "now closed" and she is not being investigated by the Public Standards Commissioner or by Police Scotland.

The investigation centred on the decision to hire a professional photographer to produce work for constituency publications, he said.

Mr Anwar added: "When the photographer withdrew consent to use of photographs and the contract could not be completed, Ms McAlpine refunded the expenses to Parliament out of her own pocket and at her own instigation.

"There was no cost to the public purse.

"Quite rightly the public places a great emphasis on our MSPs telling the truth and making sure public money is used wisely, which is exactly what Joan McAlpine has done. After the Leveson Inquiry, it is equally ­incumbent on the press to abide by high standards of probity."

SNP business convener Derek Mackay said: "This is a very welcome decision, which draws a line under the matter. Joan has abided scrupulously by the rules, and that has been confirmed today by the cross-party Scottish Parliament Corporate Body."

Derek Croll, head of financial resources at Holyrood, set out the finding in a letter to Ms McAlpine.

It states: "The Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body considered a report on the matter at its meeting this morning.

"I am writing to inform you that, on the basis of the report and annexes presented to the corporate body, the SPCB determined that there was no evidence that a breach of the rules of the scheme has taken place."

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