Nicola Sturgeon defends public billing of VIP airport upgrades

The former First Minister also said security is a concern of all political leaders.

Her successor Humza Yousaf this week ordered a review of the way Scottish government officials buy items on “procurement cards” after a row over recent spending.

Labor said a data dump detailing 58,000 transactions worth £14.2million between 2019 and 2022 pointed to waste and potential financial mismanagement.

Mr Yousaf asked his most senior official, Secretary of State John-Paul Marks, to assess whether the process was sufficiently “robust”.

READ ALSO: Nicola Sturgeon Says Alex Salmond Is ‘Not Someone I Want In My Life’

Apart from spending on Ms Sturgeon’s airport refurbishment, staff spent nearly £33,000 on days off, including frivolous activities, despite the cost of living crisis.

Asked about the expense of her travel arrangements, Ms Sturgeon said on Iain Dale’s All Talk show at the Edinburgh Fringe that First Ministers “need to be able to travel quickly and safely through an airport”.

She added: “I don’t know if this is a scandal, make up your own mind.”

On airport services spending, she said: “I think I’ve seen £10,000 over a couple of years. That’s probably less than a private jet flight for Rishi Sunak.”

READ ALSO: Nicola Sturgeon Says Writing Her Memoir Was ‘Very Therapeutic’

Ms Sturgeon added that “of course it’s important to be careful with public money, taxpayer money and pennies”.

But she also said: “For any first minister, probably for any head of government somewhere else, all travel is marked by security considerations.”

Mr Sunak last month defended his use of planes to travel across the UK.

After flying to Scotland in July, he said: “Every Prime Minister before me has also used planes to travel around the UK because it’s an efficient use of time for the person running the country.”

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