MSP de­nies crofter

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - NEWS -

Fer­gus Ewing has been ac­cused of giv­ing £10 mil­lion to crofters to help his SNP col­league Ian Black­ford de­fend his Ross, Skye and Lochaber seat.

The claim was made after the ru­ral econ­omy sec­re­tary wrote to the Holy­rood ru­ral econ­omy com­mit­tee ex­plain­ing that the cash had been al­lo­cated fol­low­ing rep­re­sen­ta­tions from the Scot­tish

Croft­ing Fed­er­a­tion (SCF). Mr Ewing’s let­ter was sent on Tues­day, hours be­fore the civil ser­vice went into gen­eral elec­tion “pur­dah” – the pe­riod dur­ing which min­is­ters and civil ser­vants are for­bid­den from us­ing pub­lic funds for po­lit­i­cal pur­poses.

At yes­ter­day’s meet­ing of the ru­ral econ­omy com­mit­tee, North East MSP Peter Chap­man ac­cused Mr Ewing of “rush­ing through” the plan “to help his West­min­ster leader

Ian Black­ford main­tain his seat in five weeks time”.

Mr Black­ford faces a chal­lenge from Lib Dem can­di­date Craig Har­row for Ross, Skye and Lochaber, a con­stituency with many crofters. Ear­lier, Mr Ewing ex­plained the cash had come from con­ver­gence fund­ing for agri­cul­ture which was an­nounced at Holy­rood last week.

The Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment said the £10m was in ad­di­tion to £80m al­ready ear­marked for this year.

Ru­ral Econ­omy Sec­re­tary Fer­gus Ewing

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