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Donald Dewar Monday, 14 August, 2000, 12:29 GMT 13:29 UK
First Minister returns to the fray
Donald Dewar at his desk
Mr Dewar has been away less than four months
BBC News Online looks back at how we reported Donald Dewar's heart illness.

Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar has returned to work less than four months after undergoing major heart surgery.

The 62-year-old stepped back into the political arena as controversy continued to reign over the exam results fiasco.

He was forced to make an immediate defence of Education Minister Sam Galbraith after hundreds of students in Scotland were left without their exam results.

Mr Dewar gave reassurances that no A-level student would leap frog rival candidates with Highers.

Mr Wallace in the Scottish Parliament
Jim Wallace stepped in for Mr Dewar
And he expressed confidence in Mr Galbraith, describing him as a "first-class minister".

But Mr Dewar admitted he greatly regretted what had happened over the exam results.

The first minister said independent consultants would report on the causes of the problem and a validation exercise involving schools should be completed by Thursday evening.

The Labour stalwart has recovered well since a four-hour operation in May to replace a heart valve.

He received a mechanical valve after a routine check-up revealed heart "irregularities".

The first minister has undertaken just two official engagements since taking sick leave.

As well as tackling the fallout over the exam results issue, he will have to give urgent attention to the Transport Bill.

'A close eye'

A proposal to tax motorists who park at work is seen as highly controversial.

Mr Dewar was also due to chair Monday's cabinet meeting in which ministers are expected to discuss how to divide the 3.4bn promised to Scotland as part of the Chancellor's comprehensive spending review.

Liberal Democrat Deputy First Minister, Jim Wallace, took on Mr Dewar's responsibilities during his absence.

Despite his period of recuperation, Mr Dewar has kept a close eye on proceedings in the Scottish Parliament.

In July, he ordered Tom McCabe, the Minister for Parliament, to deliver a stern warning to his Labour colleagues on the Scottish Executive.

Mr Dewar told them to stop squabbling - or face the sack, after a row broke out between Finance Minister Jack McConnell and Health Minister Susan Deacon over 34m of unspent health cash.

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14 Aug 00 | Scotland
10 Aug 00 | Scotland
28 Jul 00 | Donald Dewar
21 Jun 00 | Donald Dewar
11 May 00 | Scotland
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