A TORY MSP has been admonished by Holyrood’s standards committee for failing to declare business interests while lodging parliamentary questions.

Alexander Burnett, who represents Aberdeenshire West, did not declare financial interests in two written questions. The standards committee said they were “minded to be lenient on this occasion” but warned they would consider sanctions for any future breaches and urged MSPs to declare interests for all parliamentary proceedings.

Burnett said he had penned questions to the Scottish Government after two businesses in his constituency attended one of his surgeries and raised concerns over the “huge increases” in business rates affecting the north east of Scotland.

But the MSP failed to declare that he personally owned businesses in the area which were also facing rates rises. Following a formal complaint by SNP councillor David Aitchison, Burnett wrote to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland saying the omission was due to “a genuine error” by a new member of his staff.

Burnett wrote: “These questions were submitted for the benefit of my constituents, however a genuine staff error meant that the tick box ‘I have a registered interest’ was not selected when it should have been.

“I of course take full responsibility for my new member of staff and she has now had training from the Chamber Desk,” he said.

Standards committee convener Clare Adamson, an SNP MSP, said the committee was unanimous in the decisions reached on the complaint.

She added: “Firstly, it agrees with the findings in fact and conclusion of the Commissioner. Secondly, it admonishes Alexander Burnett for his failure to make a declaration of a registered financial interest when giving notice of two Parliamentary Questions.”

She went on to say the breach did not justify the imposition of sanctions “on this occasion”, but warned: “The declaration of registered interests in any matter before taking part in proceedings of the Parliament relating to that matter represents an important aspect of parliamentary transparency and accountability. “

The Committee issued a reminder to MSPs of their responsibilities to declare relevant interests in March this year.