Under-fire Edinburgh West Liberal Democrat MSP Alex Cole-Hamilton is this week facing new pressure to “come clean” over how he managed his electoral campaign expenses.
In a new round of a complex story about whether or not the huge amounts he spent were allocated to the correct budgets the SNP – who have called on him to resign his whip over the affair – have drawn attention to “blue letters” used in the campaign that won him a seat in Holyrood.
They are said to have been aimed at pensioners, and are composed in a “hand written” font the SNP claim was meant to persuade people they were receiving a genuine personal letter from the would-be MSP.
They say that (for whatever reason) the cost of what are said to have been 17,000 letters could not be seen in expense returns.
Police recently confirmed they have been carrying out an investigation into how election funds were used.
Mr Cole-Hamilton was not available for comment this week, and while his chief press officer said he would get back with a statement he was said to be unavailable for comment on Thursday.
In a brief earlier conversation he said Mr Cole-Hamilton had stressed all along that in his opinion there was no case to answer.
The MSP has made light of various SNP accusations, suggesting in comments on his Facebook page that the SNP are bad losers who only want to get him into trouble on what he considers to be wholly specious grounds.
He is also said to have given as a reason for not resigning the whip the fact that the Liberal-Democrats would then lose “group” status within the Scottish Parliament.
A spokesperson for Edinburgh West SNP said: “The Lib Dems say their expenses were forensically and properly recorded yet there are some very obvious items missing, and the MSP is only £543 short of the spending limit.”
“It’s time for Alex Cole-Hamilton to tell his constituents how much he really spent”.
It has been reported that he recorded the highest election costs of any Edinburgh candidate, spending £32,549 on his campaign SNP rival Tony Giugliano spent £18,593.
A member of the SNP in Edinburgh Western said: “It’s quite extraordinary that Alex Cole-Hamilton refuses to resign the whip purely because it deprives the Lib Dems of certain parliamentary privileges.
“This shows he is putting his status over and above the interests of his constituents.”