Scottish Conservative rural affairs spokesman resigns over lobbying 'mistake'
Peter Chapman failed to tell Aberdeenshire councillors he owned shares in the Aberdeen and Northern Marts Group.
The Scottish Conservative spokesman on rural affairs has resigned after failing to declare a personal interest in a project he was promoting.
Peter Chapman lobbied several members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch Area Committee last week in support of a planning application from the Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) Group to expand the mart at Thainstone Business Centre in Inverurie.
However, the North East Scotland MSP failed to declare to the councillors that as a local farmer, he is a member of the farming co-operative and owns 50,000 shares in the group.
While Chapman has said he would not gain financially if the expansion were to go ahead, he admitted that his failure to declare his personal interest in the application fell below the “high standards of transparency that is expected of MSPs”.
Chapman’s resignation followed the Daily Record gaining a recording of a voicemails left by Chapman on a councillor’s phone.
In his letter of resignation, Chapman said: “It’s quite clear with hindsight that I should have made my financial interest in the phone calls clear and that it was a foolish oversight on my behalf not to do so.
“I failed to maintain the high standards of transparency that is expected of MSPs. As a result, I cannot in all conscience continue in post, hence my reason for offering my resignation.
“It was not my intention to hide this - indeed anyone can see the details of my investment on the Scottish Parliament register of interests.
“I can say hand on heart that my only thought was to support a local business and improve our local economy. I deeply regret this incident and I only hope people will see if for what it is: an honest mistake taken while trying to help my local constituents and the Aberdeenshire economy.”
Ruth Davidson said that it was "with regret" that she has accepted his resignation and paid tribute to his “admirable” contribution to the brief for two years.
Commenting on the resignation, Scottish Labour's Rural Affairs spokesperson Colin Smyth MSP said:
“This sudden announcement provides more questions than answers.
“Ruth Davidson’s band of Tory MSPs are well known for their long registers of interests – and she must be furious with him over this latest revelation.
“Rather than holding the SNP to account, the Tories seem more concerned with intervening in local issues to further their own interests.
“The public deserve to know how this situation came about, who knew about it and when – and whether any other Tory MSPs have been engaging in similar behaviour on other issues.
“People in the north-east and across Scotland deserve answers.”