Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:57 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Donald Gorrie Donald Gorrie Liberal Democrat 3:57 pm, 8th March 2007

The Standards and Public Appointments Committee contacted Brian Monteith and said that it wished to take further representations from him so that he could clarify any points that he wished to make. He had already dealt with the matter fully with the Scottish parliamentary standards commissioner. Mr Monteith wrote to the committee at considerable length and set out interesting arguments about embargos. He did not indicate that he was desperate to come and speak to us. We understood that the letter was his defence.

The committee decided to support the standards commissioner's judgment. Although there are arguments about what is and is not an embargo, it is clear that the clerk to the Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill Committee—or an equivalent person—made it clear to members of that committee that they should not say anything until the committee's report was in the public domain. Brian Monteith did say something, so it seems clear that there was a breach.

Although the previous incident involving Mike Pringle was different in many ways, it was of the same order of seriousness as the current case, so it is reasonable to impose the same penalty. We should try to have standards that people understand and go along with, so the Standards and Public Appointments Committee imposed the same penalty as was imposed on Mike Pringle.

The committee believes that Brian Monteith has had natural justice. We considered his arguments carefully, but we do not agree with them and we believe that the penalty is commensurate with the seriousness of the event.