Scottish MSP in probe over Standard links

By Hamish Mackay

A Scottish MSP is facing a standards commission investigation after
tabling a Holyrood motion to praise the newly launched Scottish
Standard national weekly newspaper without declaring an alleged
interest.

Bruce McFee, a Scottish National Party MSP for West of Scotland,
subsequently declared an interest but only after it became clear that
the Daily Record was to run a story about it.

In his motion,
McFee welcomed the launch of the pro-independence Scottish Standard
which he described as “a valuable addition to Scotland’s otherwise
unionist press”.

The Daily Record’s political editor Paul
Sinclair claimed that Belfast-based Flagship Media Group, parent
company of the Scottish Standard, made a £2,000 donation to McFee’s
election campaign before the Scottish Parliament elections in May, 2003.

McFee
was also linked to Flagship Media through the rental of an office to
him at the company’s premises in William Street, Paisley, from where
the Scottish Standard is published.

McFee’s office is rented to SNP Facilities of which he is a director.

Derek Carstairs, chief executive of Flagship Media, is also a director of SNP Facilities.

Under
Scottish Parliament rules, it is an offence to commit “paid advocacy by
carrying out a parliamentary function in return for cash or
hospitality”.

However, McFee has vehemently denied any wrongdoing
or any form of paid advocacy. He said the £2,000 donation was to West
Renfrewshire SNP for his election campaign, not to him personally, but
he declared it in order to be open and transparent.

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