First Minister Alex Salmond was last night criticised by Labour after it emerged that taxpayers were charged £60,000 in travel costs for only five meetings of his economic gurus.
The SNP Government refused to say if the cost to the public purse, which included £25,000 for one session of the Council of Economic Advisers (CoEA) near Mr Salmond's constituency home in Banff, also included the cost of flying the members from their homes in California, South Africa and Monaco.
Mr Salmond set up the 11-strong CoEA in 2007 to help boost sustainable economic growth north of the border, and it is chaired by former Royal Bank of Scotland chairman Sir George Mathewson. It comprises economists, academics and representatives from the business world and has several declared SNP supporters.
Material released under freedom of information legislation has revealed the five meetings generated a travel bill totalling £61,642.
OK, it wouldn’t perhaps have been as presidential as El Tartanissimo would have liked, but...nobody thought of trying multi-point video-conferencing?