Scottish MP quits law firm after probe by Daily Record

By Hamish Mackay

An investigation by the Daily Record has led directly to Scottish
Tory parliamentary leader and MSP David McLetchie quitting his
£30,000-a-year part-time job as a lawyer.

His resignation as a partner of law firm Tods Murray came after
McLetchie claimed he had been cleared by Holyrood officials of breaking
the MSPs’ code of conduct by signing a parliamentary motion favourable
to a client of the law firm without declaring an interest.

The
McLetchie case has thrown up a Catch-22 situation for the media, where
it cannot investigate possible further breaches of the rules by
McLetchie as he is not allowed to disclose names of the law firm’s
clients on confidentiality grounds.

However, it has emerged that
the Scottish Parliament’s standards commissioner, Dr Jim Dyer, is
investigating McLetchie on the charge of “paid advocacy”

– a criminal offence in which an MSP does parliamentary favours in return for money or hospitality.

McLetchie
denies any such allegations, but the Scottish Labour Party is
vigorously pursuing the issue. It is accusing the MSP of
“appallinghypocrisy” over his own record of interests while he is
demanding First Minister Jack McConnell declare overseas holidays with
Kirsty Wark, the BBC Newsnight presenter.

The Daily Record
investigation, spearheaded by political editor Paul Sinclair, produced
a series of articles about the Tory leader’s “conflict of interests”,
and how his dual role may have broken the MSPs’ code of conduct.

The
newspaper claimed McLetchie signed parliamentary motions backing the
same interests as some of the law firm’s clients in what could be a
breach of rules on paid advocacy.

McLetchie cannot disclose who
have been clients of the firm in the past six years while he has been
an MSP due to client confidentially.

Without that list it may be impossible for him to clear his name over allegations of conflicts of interest.

Equally it poses major obstacles to investigative journalism.

The
Daily Record explained the Catch-22 in its leader column: “We still do
not know who were clients of his (McLetchie) or his firm.

“So we
cannot check if there have been other occasions when he has had a
potential conflict of interests in addition to ones revealed by this
newspaper.”

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