A north-east politician who used House of Commons stationery for constituency business has apologised and repaid the costs.
The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards launched an investigation after receiving a complaint that the Banff and Buchan MP had used “taxpayer funded resources” to write to update his constituents.
Mr Duguid sent out 1,000 letters to constituents using first-class pre-paid envelopes provided by the Commons.
The complainer alleged this breached paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct, which states resources should not be used for any “personal or financial benefit on themselves or anyone else, or confer undue advantage on a political organisation”.
When contacted by the Commissioner, Scottish Conservative Mr Duguid admitted he had not believed his letter would breach the rules, but accepted he should have “checked again” before sending it out. He offered to repay the costs.
In the determination documents, the Commissioner states: “In my view, there is now doubt; that mailing provided a general update on a range of issues and was, therefore, a breach of the rules.
“While this should not have happened, I consider this breach to be at the less serious end of the spectrum.”
She said that if he apologised and refunded the House for the cost of the paper, envelopes and first-class postage, the matter would be closed.
He has now repaid the £777.92.
Mr Duguid admitted to the breach of standards that were “a genuine oversight” on his part and said breaking the rues was “never his intention”.
He said last night: “The Commissioner has acknowledged the breach was at the ‘lower end of the spectrum’.
“It was never my intention to break parliamentary rules when providing updates to my constituents. I immediately repaid the costs in full and have apologised for the error.”
Stewart Stevenson, SNP MSP for Banffshire and Buchan Coast said it had been “disappointing” behaviour.
“It’s really disappointing to hear of any breach of the Code of Conduct as it affects us all when taxpayers’ money is funding a party political campaign,” he said.
“We must be able to trust that elected officials do not misuse their parliamentary budgets to gain an upper hand during election periods and so it is right that this money will be paid back.
“I hope that in future, Mr Duguid will think more carefully about his use of parliamentary resources ensuring they are in keeping with the Standards Commissioners Guidance.”