Tory politician's anger at SoS email betrayal

By
Hamish Mackay Scotland on Sunday has been accused of betrayal after
publishing a string of damaging “private” emails sent to the paper by a
prominent Scottish Tory.

MSP Brian Monteith quit the party whip
last Friday after he learned that the emails sent to SoS editor Iain
Martin were to be published in that week’s paper.

Initially Monteith said: “I have lived by the email and now died by the email.

I
write for newspapers all the time, of every stable, and I swap opinions
all the time. Nothing remotely like this has ever happened to me
before.”

However, on Sunday, Monteith, a former PR man, was on the attack, criticising Martin for his decision to reveal all.

He
told BBC Radio Scotland: “There were many people in higher office than
me in the party who were briefing against David McLetchie – more
maliciously than I was.

“With the media it will come down to a
question of journalistic ethics and the editor of that particular paper
will for a long time, I think, have difficulty getting exclusives in
the political arena.”

The MSP said he found it unbelievable that a newspaper editor should reveal private correspondence.

Martin
responded: “I think it’s supremely ironical that a serial plotter like
Mr Monteith should now be bleating about journalistic ethics.

“I
was astonished to receive the original email from him and even more
astonished to see him crying crocodile tears on BBC television… after
Mr McLetchie resigned.”

Scotland on Sunday carried a two-page
spread on the email saga with the banner heading: “Emails, plots and
the rank hypocrisy of Brian Monteith”.

And it attacked him in an editorial for “compounding his treachery with hypocrisy”.

The
most damning email was sent by Monteith on 19 October – the week before
Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie was forced to quit following a
lengthy Sunday Herald investigation into his parliamentary taxi
expenses.

In it he said: “You need to do a serious leader saying why the Letch [McLetchie] should resign next week.

Happy to speak to you about it, but cannot afford to be quoted by Eddie [Barnes, the newspaper’s political editor].

“[Columnist Gerald] Warner should also be drafted in – again I would be happy to brief him.”

In a subsequent email, Monteith wrote to Martin: “Did you see Kate Pickering on Newsnight on Tuesday?

She tore him [McLetchie] to shreds.

Maybe she would write a piece for you.”

Monteith
plans to stay on as an independent MSP until the next election in 2007,
but moves by the Tories to expel him from the party make his future
political career uncertain.

Monteith is one of three nominees for the “Free Spirit Award” in The Herald’s Scottish Politician of the Year Awards 2005.

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