MSP guilty of fail­ing to de­clare busi­ness in­ter­ests af­ter ‘gen­uine staff er­ror’

Evening Express (City Final) - - Uk & Abroad -

ABERDEEN­SHIRE West MSP Alexander Bur­nett has been found guilty by ethics watch­dogs of fail­ing to de­clare his own busi­ness in­ter­ests while chal­leng­ing the Scot­tish Govern­ment on busi­ness rates hikes.

A com­plaint was lodged af­ter Mr Bur­nett, who is worth £40 mil­lion, did not de­clare he was a di­rec­tor and chair­man of the North Ban­chory Com­pany (NBC) when ques­tion­ing the re­cent reval­u­a­tion of com­mer­cial rates. Holy­rood’s stan­dards com­mit­tee unan­i­mously de­cided to ad­mon­ish the Con­ser­va­tive MSP for break­ing the code of con­duct af­ter a re­port from the Com­mis­sioner for Eth­i­cal Stan­dards in Public Life Scot­land. The com­mis­sioner’s re­port stated: “It ap­pears to me that the re­spon­dent, hav­ing reg­is­tered his prop­erty in­ter­est in NBC and hav­ing ac­knowl­edged that the com­pany is af­fected by spe­cific com­mer­cial rates in­creases in com­mer­cial prop­erty re­sult­ing from the reval­u­a­tion, had an in­ter­est to de­clare.” Mr Bur­nett had told the com­mis­sioner the mis­take was an er­ror made by a ju­nior mem­ber of staff, who had not yet had par­lia­men­tary train­ing and noth­ing to do with his busi­ness in­ter­ests.

He stated: “A gen­uine staff er­ror meant the tick box ‘I have reg­is­tered an in­ter­est’ was not se­lected. I, of course, take full re­spon­si­bil­ity for my new mem­ber of staff and she has now had train­ing from the Cham­ber desk.”

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