An SNP MP has hit back at newspapers after several published a smear story based on claims that were originally made three years ago.
Corri Wilson took to Facebook after The Herald and The Telegraph both ran a story which contained allegations of wrongdoing on the part of the MP for Ayr. The story concerned payments to Ms Wilson’s company Caledonii Resources after it had supplied contract staff to SNP MSP Chic Brodie.
Writing on Facebook, Ms Wilson said:
“Contrary to what has been reported by certain newspapers about the office support work that my former company undertook for Chic Brodie MSP, “I would like to make clear that I have done nothing wrong, that there is nothing to investigate, and that this ‘story’ is in fact just a new spin on an old story which initially tried – and failed – to discredit Chic in 2013 and now disappointingly has been rehashed in an attempt to discredit me.
“Since becoming an MP last year I’ve had to quickly learn to develop a thick skin and brush off these attacks.”
According to The Telegraph, the MP was ‘at the centre of an expenses row after a fellow party politician paid her company £87,616 of taxpayers’ money from his parliamentary expense account.’
The Herald reported that, ‘THE Conservatives have called for an official investigation and “full disclosure” from the SNP about how one Nationalist politician used tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money to pay another Nationalist politician’s company for staffing services.’
However it has emerged that the story is a rehash of a near identical smear attempt that appeared in Scottish newspapers back in September 2013 when the Daily Record reported the following:
‘A politician who claimed £40,000 of expenses in 12 months insists: “I’ve nothing to be ashamed of”.
The Labour supporting newspaper added:
‘In the last year, Mr Brodie, 69, has claimed more than £19,000 in “staffing costs” for a firm to handle his constituency business.
‘The Ayr company, called Caledonii Resources, is run by South Ayrshire SNP councillor, Corri Wilson.’
The same story appeared again eleven months later in the Daily Record.
In October 2014 the newspaper reported:
‘An Ayrshire MSP who claimed more than £54,000 in expenses has blamed parliament chiefs for his sky high bill.
The article added:
‘But Mr Brodie says the listing of his staffing costs, which are outsourced to Ayr firm Caledonia (sic) Resources, have painted a false picture.
‘The company, which describes itself as a “business support and event management” firm, has local SNP councillor Corri Wilson as a director.’
Speaking to the newspaper in 2014, Mr Brodie explained that, unlike other MSPs, his staffing costs appeared on the Holyrood expenses system because he outsourced his staffing.
He told the Daily Record:
“It forces me to list those staffing costs as part of my annual expenses. Everyone else is able to hide their direct staffing costs behind data protection.
“But because I choose to outsource mine, I pay the price. If all MSPs were made to list their staffing costs, my claim would actually be a lot lower than most.
“I have long been arguing for the system to be overhauled for this very reason.”
The smear attempt on the nationalist MP coincides with the start of the Holyrood election campaign which is expected to see Nicola Sturgeon’s party win the largest number of seats. Unionist politicians have expressed disquiet that a landslide for the SNP, similar to that achieved under Alex Salmond in 2011, could result in increased calls for a second independence referendum.