[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 11:21 GMT 12:21 UK
McLetchie taxi details revealed
David McLetchie
David McLetchie did not want to reveal his journeys
The Scottish Conservative leader has admitted claiming expenses for taxi journeys to his former law firm.

David McLetchie claimed under 900 for journeys to the offices of Tods Murray and BBC Scotland's Edinburgh Queen Street office between 1999 and 2004.

Mr McLetchie confirmed the payments after the freedom of information commissioner said the taxi claims should be disclosed.

The parliament had kept the details secret to protect the MSP's safety.

Mr McLetchie, who was a partner in Tods Murray until February, said it had never been suggested his claims were "excessive" and that they had been approved.

It is well-known that I conducted parliamentary and constituency business from my law offices
David McLetchie
Scottish Tory leader

The Scottish Parliament Corporate Body (SPCB) had refused to give details beyond the costs of Mr McLetchie's fares, arguing that to do so could compromise his safety and security.

But this was rejected by Scottish Information Commissioner Kevin Dunion, who ordered disclosure.

In response, Mr McLetchie said: "The information to be released will show that the average number of journeys was less than one per week over the five years and that the total cost of the fares was under 900.

'Singled out'

"It is well-known that I conducted parliamentary and constituency business from my law offices in Queen Street, not least to the many journalists who conducted radio, TV and newspaper interviews with me at that address over the five years.

"When any travel claim relates to a journey with a dual purpose, one of which is to conduct parliamentary or constituency business, then it is well established under the rules that such a claim is an allowable expense."

Mr McLetchie said he had consistently maintained that the disclosure rules must apply equally to all MSPs.

Taxi
Mr McLetchie now wants all MSP taxi records published

"Accordingly, in support of the freedom of information policy of the parliament, I refused to be singled out," he added.

He said the ruling should now apply to all journeys undertaken by MSPs and to all journeys undertaken by ministers.

Mr Dunion said that while Mr McLetchie's safety could potentially be endangered by the release of information that allowed third parties to predict his movements, a "painstaking" examination of almost 800 taxi journeys found no pattern evident from the expense claims that would allow such predictions.

Mr Dunion said: "Under freedom of information legislation each case must be considered on its own merits, and it is clear to me that, in this instance, there is no basis to the SPCB's claim that Mr McLetchie might be put at risk by the release of his past taxi destinations."

It was entirely proper that the corporate body should raise and continue to raise concerns over the release of information
Scottish Parliament spokesman

The Scottish Parliament said it would "move quickly" to process and release the information.

But a spokesman defended the initial decision, saying the matter had raised wider issues than simply Mr McLetchie's taxi receipts.

"It was entirely proper that the corporate body should raise and continue to raise concerns over the release of information when it relates to personal data and safety issues because of the very public role that MSPs serve," he said.

"There have been a number of incidents since the parliament was established of MSPs receiving personal threats."


SEE ALSO:
McLetchie pressed on taxi claims
14 Jun 05 |  Scotland
MSP expenses hit a total of 8m
22 Dec 04 |  Scotland
MSPs' expenses revealed
04 Dec 03 |  Scotland


RELATED BBC LINKS:

RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific