Tory politician Douglas Ross has insisted that he will continue his career as a professional football referee even if he manages to unseat the SNP's depute leader Angus Robertson at next month's general election. The MSP described refereeing as a 'hobby' and claims that he only makes £5,000 a year from his role in football.
Ross caused controversy last year when he missed a vote at the Scottish Parliament so he could take part in World Cup referee training. He also missed a parliamentary committee to run the line at a Champions League match in Portugal, prompting calls for him to quit his frontbench role as justice spokesman for the Tories.
Ross said: “Since all the negative publicity, I’ve had to turn down appointments for a last 16 match of the Champions League and a Quarter Final of the Europa League, because I could see quite clearly people were annoyed that I had missed Parliament.”
He missed matches between Bayer Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid in February, and also Celta Vigo and KRC Genk in March.
Ross denied claims that he earned up to £40,000 a year from his assistant football referee role, claiming that he only made an eighth of that figure. In the Scottish Parliament's register of interests, Ross declared the sum of £40,000, but he further claimed that this was made up of hotel and travelling expenses rather than earnings.
Asked if he would continue in his role as a referee if elected as an MP, Mr Ross replied: “I would hope so. People like the fact that there is someone local performing in big matches.”
SNP's candidate for West Aberdeenshire and Kincardine, Stuart Donaldson, hit out at Ross's remarks, he said: "His latest comments show he is not remotely serious about the job of representing constituents on a full-time basis.
"It’s clear where his priorities lie and it’s certainly not with the people of Moray – because despite admitting that local people are ‘annoyed’ at his double-jobbing, he still has the arrogance to say he won’t give up his refereeing.”
SNP MSP Macpherson added: "The arrogance and blatant disrespect of 'three jobs' Tory Douglas Ross is simply staggering.
"Last time the whistle was blown on one of his refereeing junkets the Tories claimed it was just a 'one off'. But he's at it again - and this time it should be a straight red card.
"Obviously he values his £40k-a-year weekend job - and all-expenses paid trips to Lisbon and other European cities - more than his responsibilities as an MSP and local councillor, demonstrating complete contempt for the people who elected him.
"If Douglas Ross can't pitch up to do his job, it's time for relegation - he should either take a step back from refereeing or stand down from Holyrood's justice committee with immediate effect, and Ruth Davidson should give him the boot from her frontbench team."
Douglas Ross' opponent for the Moray seat, SNP MP Angus Robertson, took to twitter commenting:
— Angus Robertson (@AngusRobertson) May 10, 2017