Sturgeon's Book Publisher Investigated Over Award Of £295,000 Taxpayer Cash
9th November 2021
Financial crimes unit are probing claims rules were broken when Highlands and Islands Enterprise awarded grants to Sandstone Press of Inverness.
The publisher was given £120,000 in the 12 months leading up to the publication of Women Hold Up Half the Sky: Selected Speeches of Nicola Sturgeon.
Police are investigating fraud allegations over £295,000 of taxpayers' money given to the publisher of a book of Nicola Sturgeon's speeches.
Officers from the financial crimes unit are probing claims rules were broken when Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) awarded grants and loans to Sandstone Press of Inverness.
The firm, run by SNP supporter Robert Davidson, was given £120,000 in the 12 months leading up to the publication of Women Hold Up Half the Sky: Selected Speeches of Nicola Sturgeon.
The book was promoted in the run-up to the Holyrood election in May and released four days later.
The Daily Record revealed that Keith Charters, managing director of book firm Strident Publishing, wrote to Sturgeon warning of concerns over Sandstone.
His subsequent police complaint, now the subject of an investigation, involves allegations of wrongdoing directed at both the publisher and HIE.
As well as the £120,000 of grants given last year, police are looking into £175,000 of loans agreed with the company in 2019 which are all understood to have been drawn down.
Over the last 15 years, Sandstone has benefited from more than £500,000 of public money, when grants from Creative Scotland are also taken into account.
The publisher has been accused of making false statements about the number of people employed, while HIE is alleged to have wrongly recorded the location of the firm which increased its eligibility for financial support.
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