WESTMINSTER’S standards watchdog has censured a Scottish Tory MP for using taxpayers' cash to send out party political leaflets.

David Duguid has been ordered to pay back £777 after using House of Commons stationery and pre-paid envelopes to send unsolicited letters to constituents.

A complaint was made at the start of the year, prompting a probe from the Commissioner for Parliamentary Standards.

Duguid confessed straight away, telling the watchdog that he’d sent 1000 letters using first-class postage-paid envelopes.

The MP told the Commissioner that he “was not conversant with the fact that a letter along the lines of the one that I sent might be a breach of rules”.

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In his letter, sent out on October 3, Duguid wrote: “Looking at the daily media headlines it would be easy to think that politicians are interested only in Brexit or Nicola Sturgeon's call for another independence referendum. Both issues are of course very important and will be at the heart of any General Election if one is called.”

Paragraph 16 of the Code of Conduct for MPs states that the “use of public resources is always in support of… parliamentary duties. It should not confer any undue personal or financial benefit on themselves or anyone else, or confer undue advantage on a political organisation”.

In their complaint letter, the constituent – who had not written to Duguid previously – said they believed “the real purpose of this unsolicited letter... is political campaigning”.

In his response to the commissioner, Duguid said: “With the benefit of hindsight I accept that the letter might be 'construed as a general update on a range of issues', but at the time it was never intended to be anything other than a communication in support my parliamentary duties and my obligations to my constituents.”

He added: “It was not part of any party or election campaign. Indeed no more letters were sent when it became clear that a pre-Christmas election might be a real possibility.”

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The MP said he “was aware of the rule about not using House-provided stationery for party political purposes. But I was not conversant with the fact that a letter along the lines of the one that I sent might be a breach of rules, having seen what I considered to be similar letters from other MPs.

“I fully accept that it would have been prudent to have checked the rules again before the mailing and I apologise for not having done so. I can assure you that it was never my intention to flout the rules.

“Should you conclude that I have acted in breach of the rules I will of course repay in full the costs involved.”

The commissioner accepted that this breach would “be at the less serious end of the spectrum”.

More to follow.