The Tories have been left counting the cost of Nadhim Zahawi for some weeks now. The tax affairs of the axed party chairman have triggered a whole debate around sleaze, standards and transparency. Rishi Sunak is now expected to publish his own tax returns within weeks; polling for The Spectator by Redfield and Wilton shows that a whopping 70 per cent of Britons believe that ministers should do the same – including two-thirds of 2019 Tory voters. Only 17 per cent of the public now think those in government should be allowed to keep their personal returns private.
Leading the charge on all this is Nicola Sturgeon. The First Minister is never one to miss an opportunity for self-promotion – and distract the media from the woeful performance of her under-achieving Holyrood government. So it was no surprise then when Sturgeon pledged a fortnight ago to publish her own returns. Unfortunately for the camera-loving nationalist, her stunt backfired today when SNP apparatchiks uploaded the returns but mistakenly published her bank account number too. Whoops!
The page on the SNP website announcing the move – with links to the documents – had to be quickly deleted after journalists spotted that her Bank of Scotland account number was visible on one, despite being blanked out for privacy reasons on all others. Bank of Scotland is part of Lloyds Banking Group, whose advice on identify theft warns: ‘Your banking and personal details should be kept private and off social media.’ It meant that when Sturgeon stood up at an 11.30am press conference to announce she had published the returns, the webpage had to be pulled from the SNP website, with an error message showing at the link.
Good thing those dastardly journalists spotted it before some unscrupulous Scot ordered a round of drinks on the First Minister’s card eh?