Douglas Ross referee: Inside Tory MP’s football second job

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Since 2020 Douglas Ross has led the Scottish Conservative Party, in a post which he serves alongside being a Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) – and a part-time assistant football referee. The politician works as a match official for the Scottish Football Association (SFA). However, in the wake of the Tory ‘sleaze’ scandal his jobs outside of Parliament came under scrutiny and raised questions about whether they’re distracting him from his leadership position. So, what’s Mr Ross’ history as an assistant referee?

Where has Douglas Ross officiated?

In the past, Mr Ross has worked as an assistant referee in some of the biggest matches that Scottish football has to offer.

He helped to officiate the 2015 Scottish Cup Final in front of more than 37,000 people at Hampden Park, Scotland’s national football stadium.

He has also run the line in the ‘Old Firm’ derby – fixture between Rangers FC and Celtic FC – and been involved in a number of UEFA and FIFA level matches.

Last November, when questions were raised about the work that MPs conduct outside of their parliamentary duties, Mr Ross reported himself for failing to declare some of his football earnings.

This included 16 payments which amounted to £6,728.57 from football matches in 2020 and 2021.

Mr Ross also issued an apology for forgetting to register a 17th game where he was paid £445.

Speaking at the time to BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland, he said: “It was a bad error on my behalf.

“I’ve obviously done it (declared earnings) throughout the time I’ve been an MP but there was a period at the end of last year – I’ve tried to work out why – I missed 16 games.

“I don’t know why I did that and I noticed the mistake myself last week. I got in touch with the parliamentary authorities. I worked with them to get the register up to date. I am extremely sorry.”

However, later that month Mr Ross refused to say if he would give up his third job as a football referee, adding it was “something I enjoy doing”.

The 38-year-old has been injured since January 2020 and has not officiated any professional games since then.

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Coupled with his work in football Mr Ross is employed as an MSP after he was elected to the Highlands and Islands seat last May.

The top-up salary paid to an MSP who is also an MP is £21,490 for a whole year.

However, it was revealed that Mr Ross again failed to declare his earnings, from the second half of 2020, for this position.

In total he failed to declare £10,745 in his register of interests at Westminster.

Can MPs work second jobs?

In addition to their annual salary of £81,932 MPs may work a second job so long as they are not a government minister.

They must publicly declare any additional income, along with gifts, donations and shareholdings over 15 percent.

MPs who leave the government are also banned from lobbying for two years and must consult the Advisory Committee on Business Appointments on any jobs they wish to take up in the two years after leaving their post.

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