Lobby row Tory MSP referred self to watchdog
A north-east MSP has been referred to a powerful standards watchdog after lobbying councillors to support an expansion of a business in which he had invested.
Peter Chapman, who quit as Scottish Conservative rural affairs and connectivity spokesman this week after the “incident” emerged, he referred himself to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life.
A constituent is also understood to have reported him, after a voicemail was leaked in which Mr Chapman was heard attempting to persuade councillors to support ANM Group’s Thainstone Mart extension near Inverurie.
ANM Group has planning permission in principle for the business park expansion, but has still to get final approval for some of the conditions. Mr Chapman owns 50,000 shares in the cooperative, but has insisted his investment was not linked to its performance, meaning he would not stand to make any money from the development.
At first minister’s questions in Holyrood yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon described the row as a “scandal”.
In his letter to the commissioner, Mr Chapman said: “I deeply regret this incident and I only hope people will see it for what it is: an honest mistake taken while trying to help my local constituents and the Aberdeenshire economy.”
But an SNP spokesman said: “Peter Chapman has been caught out for putting his business interests ahead of those of his constituents – and he was right to quit before he was sacked in disgrace.
“But this remains a serious issue for the Tories which they cannot just ignore. It points to a wider problem of Ruth Davidson’s MSPs abusing privileged positions for their own ends. It’s important that the Commissioner for Standards is given the opportunity to fully investigate Mr Chapman’s behaviour and that action is taken if he is found to have breached strict parliamentary rules.”
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Mr Chapman has self-referred to the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life. He has made clear he will co-operate with any complaint.”
“This remains a serious issue the Tories cannot just ignore
QUIT: Peter Chapman resigned as rural affairs and connectivity spokesman