Referee Tory MP Douglas Ross to miss World Cup

image copyrightGetty Images
image captionMr Ross missed a House of Commons vote as he was officiating at a Barcelona match in the Champions League

Scottish Tory MP Douglas Ross has told football authorities he will no longer accept refereeing appointments when Parliament is sitting.

It means he will not be in the running to officiate at next summer's World Cup in Russia.

Mr Ross was criticised for missing a debate on Universal Credit to run the line at a Champions League match.

He defended that decision in a letter to constituents saying he knew he would not be able to speak in the debate.

Mr Ross told BBC Scotland that he had made "difficult, personal decision" on his job in football, but said his "number one priority was standing up for the people of Moray".

'Ticked off'

The MP, who has been a referee for 15 years and was first elected a Moray councillor 10 years ago, said he had not been prepared for the level of criticism he received for missing the debate earlier this month.

Mr Ross was in Spain for the Barcelona v Olympiakos game on the same day as the Universal Credit debate was held at Westminster.

Prime Minister Theresa May was forced to defend him after SNP MP John McNally raised the issue by brandishing a red card across the chamber.

Mr Ross said: "I don't need to be ticked off by anyone to know that you don't want to be on the prime minister's radar for reasons such as this.

"You want to be on the prime minister's, anyone's, radar for good reasons."

image copyrightEPA

Mr Ross said SNP campaign leaflets accusing him of putting football before parliamentary work had meant constituents were aware that refereeing was a big part of his life.

But he added that before the election he gave a commitment not to allow his football job to impact on his parliamentary duties.

He said: "I only have one priority which is to stand up for the people of Moray.

"I had given a commitment to the people of Moray and I hope this sends a signal that I was genuine about that."

Mr Ross, a former MSP, was also criticised in November last year for missing a Scottish Parliament committee meeting to run the line in a Champions League match in Portugal.

It led to calls for him to stand down from his frontbench role as the Scottish Conservatives' justice spokesman.

Mr Ross later went on to defeat the SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson at the general election in June.

Earlier, in a statement given to online community newspaper Inside Moray, the Moray MP said he recognised he could no longer balance his football job with his political one.

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