Part of the debate – in the Scottish Parliament at 3:59 pm on 8th March 2007.

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Photo of Brian Adam Brian Adam Scottish National Party 3:59 pm, 8th March 2007

Brian Monteith's suggestion that he has not had natural justice does a great disservice to the Scottish parliamentary standards commissioner and the Standards and Public Appointments Committee. The incident, which occurred in June last year, has been thoroughly investigated. Mr Monteith took up the opportunity, which was offered by the committee, to make a written submission. There was nothing new in it, so we decided that we did not need to hear any further argument. He did not offer any new argument today.

His second point was that, somehow, nobody else understands the meaning of the word "embargo" and that, because he has been a professional in the field, he is the authority on the matter. That is a weak defence. Donald Gorrie dealt with Mr Monteith's third point effectively.

Members will be aware that there have been complaints in previous years about the leaking of documents from committees. Regardless of what information was ultimately transmitted to the media, Mr Monteith admits that he gave information to a journalist. He has argued about the term "embargo". If he wants definitive guidance to be issued, the Standards and Public Appointments Committee has agreed to draw the Conveners Group's attention to its report on the complaint and to the Scottish parliamentary standards commissioner's comments. It will be for the Conveners Group to decide whether action is required.

The fact remains that Mr Monteith was a member of the Glasgow Airport Rail Link Bill Committee and was briefed on and agreed to the special procedures relating to private bills. In breaching the procedures he breached the members' code of conduct and we recommend a sanction that is proportionate and reasonable.