Lobby row Tory MSP re­ferred self to watch­dog

Chap­man be­ing in­ves­ti­gated

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - NEWS - BY CALUM ROSS

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.” Heart at­tacks are more com­mon dur­ing cold weather, with a study find­ing they in­creased “dra­mat­i­cally” when the tem­per­a­ture dropped be­low 15C (59F).

Re­searchers said peo­ple at high risk of a heart at­tack should be put on alert for symp­toms such as chest pain and short­ness of breath when the tem­per­a­ture drops, sug­gest­ing they get sent smart­phone mes­sages warn­ing them to be ex­tra vig­i­lant.

“This re­mains a se­ri­ous is­sue the Tories can­not just ig­nore

QUIT: Peter Chap­man re­signed as ru­ral af­fairs and con­nec­tiv­ity spokesman

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