Page last updated at 14:42 GMT, Sunday, 29 June 2008 15:42 UK

SNP denies Alexander bias claims

Wendy Alexander
Ms Alexander broke the rules on donations to her campaign

SNP leader Alex Salmond has denied that political bias on Holyrood's standards committee led to the downfall of the Scottish Labour leader Wendy Alexander.

Ms Alexander said the committee's decision to suspend her from the Scottish Parliament for breaking rules on declaring donations was "partisan".

Mr Salmond said she had been judged by an independent standards commissioner.

Labour MSP Cathy Jamieson, who has taken over as interim leader, said she was considering standing as leader.

Declare donations

Ms Jamieson told BBC Scotland's Politics Show that she was "actively considering" contesting the leadership.

Others tipped as possible candidates include former health minister Andy Kerr, former communities minister Margaret Curran and Iain Gray - a minister in the first Scottish parliament who lost his seat in 2003 but returned to Holyrood in 2007.

Ms Alexander resigned on Saturday, after MSPs recommended she was given a one-day ban from the Scottish Parliament for breaking donation rules.

She failed to declare donations to her leadership campaign last summer on her register of interests.

Ms Alexander said she had acted in "good faith" and on the written advice of clerks to the standards committee.

Alex Salmond
I can't see in any of this a relentless pursuit of Wendy Alexander
Alex Salmond
SNP leader
She claimed the complaints against her were "vexatious" and the decision of MSPs on the committee was partisan.

Ms Alexander added that she thought the parliamentary process had been "cynically abused" by political opponents who had used "investigation as political tactic".

Mr Salmond told BBC Scotland: "If you look at it at all rationally, the only reason these donations, which were meant to remain secret, came into the public domain, is that somebody - not just in Labour, but it had to be somebody within her leadership team - gave these details to the Sunday Herald newspaper.

"This all came from within the Labour party and I think it is quite difficult to face up to that but it is nonetheless true."

Mr Salmond added that the standards committee decision on the ban, which saw three SNP MSPs and a Lib Dem vote to suspend Ms Alexander, was not partisan.

Wendy Alexander talks of 'distractions' leading to her resignation

He said: "The standards commissioner, who is an independent figure whose name is Jim Dyer, came to the conclusion that Wendy Alexander had broken the parliamentary rules.

"It is then the job of the parliamentary committee to accept or reject that recommendation and they accepted that recommendation.

"It is then their job to decide whether there should be any penalty and they decided on a suspension of one day.

"I can't see in any of this a relentless pursuit of Wendy Alexander."

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