£14m credit card bill includes £10,000 for VIP costs at Sturgeon Airport

Figures obtained from Scottish Labor show officials also bought 21 copies of How To Run A Government So That Citizens Benefit And Taxpayers Don’t Go Crazy, six copies of a speech book by Nicola Sturgeon and a copy of the administration’s original Paper on Independence .

The expenses include VIP travel for Ms Sturgeon and her staff during her time as First Secretary and her staff used a company called Ace Handling, which rushes customers through check-in and security before dropping them off at a VIP lounge waiting for their flight.

Based at Gatwick Airport, Ace Handling Ltd prides itself on “treating you like royalty”.

It continues: “Whether you are a VIP or just want to feel like one, Ace Handling is happy to offer a VIP meet and greet service – air travel can be a stressful part of your journey.” We’re with you through the processes at the airport and relieve you of stress.

“Customers can be picked up from their car at the curb, then taken through check-in, through security, to the VIP lounge and then to your waiting flight. Get picked up from your return flight and escorted through the immigration process, baggage claim, and transport to your waiting car.”

Read more: Nicola Sturgeon set record-breaking £2million bill for Spindoctors last year

Ace Handling has been used 12 times by officers at a total cost of around £5,000 and has coincided with Ms Sturgeon’s trips to Guernsey, the US, London and Bristol.

The Scottish Government also paid Platinum Services £1,605 for a meet and greet for Ms Sturgeon at Dublin Airport, while the former FM twice enjoyed VIP treatment at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, costing £1,271 and £946 respectively.

Between September 2019 and June last year, a total of £9,898 was spent on the former First Minister’s airport services both in the UK and across Europe.

Credit card-sized credit cards will be issued to senior government officials for the purchase of goods and services worth £5,000 per transaction.

However, more than £25,000 worth of fraudulent transactions took place on the cards, which were reported for refund.

READ ALSO: UK Government Scrutinize Scottish Government Independence Spending

Scottish Labour’s full breakdown of spending covers all purchases made between September 2019 and August 2022 and includes 58,751 individual spending entries.

The Scottish Government said it could not comment on the former First Minister’s travel arrangements for security reasons, but normally publishes a spending log of all transactions over £500 on its website.

Purchases from senior staff in September 2019 also included yoga classes, nail polish and £4,182 for hospitality and hotel accommodation at the five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Perthshire for an event for women in sport.

However, the procurement cards were also used to buy an employee’s driving theory test, porcelain crockery for a meeting room, a “home disco” for £27 on eBay and “rubber boots for inspections” for £272.

Total spend on the cards was £14.2m over the three year period.

However, the vast majority were everyday purchases for officers working from home during the Covid-19 lockdown, including computer monitors.

Read more: Keith Brown ‘lives in the parallel universe’ and brags about SNP transparency

However, 3,000 entries had no description, while the cards had over £25,000 worth of fraudulent transactions reported for refund.

Scottish Labor Party finance spokesman Michael Marra said: “These are the spending habits of an arrogant and justified government with no regard for taxpayers.”

“The SNP government is wasting public money on frivolous payments and VIP treatment while services are stretched to capacity.

“The SNP must end the financial mismanagement that has plagued their government and start delivering for Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Spending via e-shopping cards will be used to support government officials with their usual work, such as training, catering, space hire and one-off deliveries.”

“The cards are not for personal spending and there are strict authorization and periodic audit arrangements in place to oversee their use.

“For security reasons, we cannot comment on the First Minister’s travel arrangements.”

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