DOUGLAS Ross is set to be replaced as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands by a London-based executive whose six-figure salary from the charity her mother founded was recently the focus of a watchdog's investigation, The National can reveal.

Ross – who on Monday announced he will step down as Scottish Conservative leader – is running to become the MP for Aberdeenshire North and Moray East after David Duguid was ousted as the Tory candidate.

Ross has said he will quit as an MSP for the Highlands and Islands region should he win the Westminster seat when General Election votes are counted on July 5.

If Ross resigns from the Scottish Parliament, he would be replaced by the next candidate on the Tories' Highlands and Islands regional list from the 2021 Holyrood elections: Ella Robertson McKay (below).

The National:

Robertson McKay is the daughter of Kate Robertson, the co-founder of the charity One Young World, which works with high-profile celebrities to develop young people’s leadership skills.

Robertson McKay is employed as the managing director of the London-based charity, and according to her LinkedIn and other social media activity, she is also based in the city.

In October 2022, the Charity Commission opened an investigation into One Young World amid concerns linked to “senior staff salaries and bonuses paid”.

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Robertson was paid £440,000 in the 18-month period to June 2021 and £225,000 in the 2022 calendar year, while Robertson McKay received £195,000 and £115,000 respectively over the same periods, reports said.

Amid the investigation, charity chief executive Robertson resigned her role as a trustee.

In January 2024, the BBC reported that the Charity Commission’s probe had concluded with an "official warning", suggesting the charity had been found guilty of a breach of trust, misconduct, or mismanagement.

Robertson McKay is also the former chair of Conservative Young Women and campaigned in the Highlands and Islands for the Tories during the 2021 Holyrood elections.

Commenting on the news that she could become the Tories’ newest MSP, SNP candidate for Perth and Kinross-shire Pete Wishart said: “It just gets worse and worse for them.

“I didn't think it would be possible for the Scottish Conservatives to find an MSP worse and more politically toxic than Douglas Ross – but it looks like they're about to blunder right into that.

“The whole situation for the Scottish Conservatives could not be any worse than it currently is. It must be utterly miserable being a Scottish Conservative candidate.”

Ross has faced criticism for saying he will only resign as an MSP if he is elected as an MP.

In his resignation statement, the Scots Tory leader said he would quit the Holyrood parliament in order to properly focus on his work as an MP. However, he has been both an MP and MSP for years.

Wishart said: “It's arrogant in the extreme. Who becomes an MP or an MSP is most definitely a matter for the Scottish people.

“For him to arrogantly choose between which ones he would stand for, which ones he would give up, I think the people of Aberdeenshire North and Moray East will determine this for him.

“I don't really think that Douglas Ross should concern himself too much about what option will be available to him at the end of the election.”

Alba Party general secretary and Inverclyde and Renfrewshire West candidate Chris McEleny said: “The Tories have imploded. Simultaneously their Prime Minister has locked himself in Churchill’s war bunker [and] their leader North of the Wall has stabbed a respected colleague in the back and shot himself in the foot.

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“Regardless of the result in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East, Douglas Ross is finished as Tory leader. And whilst the General Election rumbles on the Tories will be in a rat fight in Scotland over who gets to replace Douglas Ross.

“And thanks to his move, that would make even Icarus blush, the first thing his successor will have to deal with could be a new Tory MSP that lives in London.”

One Young World declined to comment, saying the potential for Robertson McKay to join the Scottish Parliament was linked to her political activities and not their non-partisan charity.

Robertson McKay was approached for comment through the charity and did not respond before The National went to print.

The Scottish Tories were also asked for comment.


On Tuesday, the day after this story was published, Robertson McKay responded and said she would not accept Ross's seat.

If Ross resigns as an MSP, he is now instead set to be replaced by Struan Mackie, a Tory councillor for Thurso and Northwest Caithness.