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McLeish resignation Thursday, 8 November, 2001, 12:51 GMT
McLeish's exit: Timetable of events
Henry McLeish
The row over expenses blew up in April
Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish has announced his intention to resign after just over a year in power.

Mr McLeish had been expected to fight his corner during a debate on the Officegate affair in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.

However, parliament minister Tom McCabe told MSPs that Mr McLeish had signalled his intention to resign and said he would make a statement to the parliament later in the day.

BBC News Online Scotland looks at the background to the controversy which led to Mr McLeish's exit.

April 2001: Reports appear that Mr McLeish has received 4,000 a year since 1998 from law firm Digby Brown for sub letting part of his constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife.

22 April 2001: Elizabeth Filkin, the House of Commons Standards Commissioner, writes to Mr McLeish in connection with the controversy.

A spokesman for Mr McLeish says: "The matter has been dealt with. The income in question was not for Mr McLeish's personal use, it went straight into covering the costs of running the office.

"Our impression is that Mrs Filkin is happy and has merely written to Mr McLeish out of courtesy because she has been asked by Dominic Grieve - the Tories' Scottish Affairs spokesman at Westminster - to do so."

23 October 2001: Mr McLeish releases a statement saying he has paid 9,000 to the Fees Office at the House of Commons.

His spokesman says: "Mr McLeish continued to co-operate with the Commons authorities as he believed that the matter should be concluded and that any doubts over the position should be cleared up once and for all."

25 October 2001: MSPs are barred from quizzing the first minister about his Commons expenses by Presiding Officer David Steel, who says it is a matter for the Westminster Parliament.

28 October 2001: Fife Constabulary confirms it will investigate a complaint made against the first minister.

29 October 2001: Henry McLeish opens a new hospital in Lanarkshire as the row continues and refuses to answer questions from reporters about his Glenrothes office.

1 November 2001: Mr McLeish publishes details of his expenses claims, saying he paid the money back out of his own pocket and that the 9,000 figure was arrived at in agreement with the Commons Fees Office.

But later on BBC TV's Question Time, the First Minister admits he did not know the total sum of money involved from sub letting his constituency office. Hoe insists he made no personal gain from the rental.

2 November 2001: SNP leader John Swinney says the affair has the potential to become a resignation issue after Mr McLeish's "humiliating" appearance on the programme.

4 November 2001: It emerges Mr McLeish has instructed his accountant to hand over information about the row to the Inland Revenue.

5 November 2001: Tory leader David McLetchie says Mr McLeish has three days to save his career before he faces a debate on the issues in the Scottish Parliament.

6 November 2001: Mr McLeish blames his troubles on an "honest mistake" and offers to pay back an additional 27,000 to House of Commons authorities, after it emerged the total rental income for sub letting the office since 1987 was 36,122.

7 November 2001: Mr McLeish cancels all planned engagements to prepare for Wednesday's debate. He spends his time in his office on the fifth floor of the St Andrew's House ministerial complex in Edinburgh.

A TV phone-in survey by Scottish Television's "Scotland Today" programme suggests a large majority, 77% to 23%, are in favour of him resigning.

8 November 2001: Henry McLeish's resignation is announced to the Scottish Parliament at 1100 GMT.

In his letter to Presiding Officer Sir David Steel, Mr McLeish said: "I am writing to advise you formally that I have today written to Her Majesty, in accordance with Section 45(2) of the Scotland Act, to tender my resignation as first minister.

"I intend to make a personal statement to that effect in the Scottish Parliament today.

"It has been a privilege to serve the people of Scotland as a minister in the Scottish Executive and as first minister.

"It is my intention to continue to serve my constituents in Central Fife as their member of the Scottish Parliament."

Mr McLeish makes a statement in parliament at 1430 GMT and announces his decision to resign from the post of first minister.

Home affairs correspondent Reevel Alderson
"He was particularly wounded by his performance on the BBC's Question Time"

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See also:

06 Nov 01 | Scotland
06 Nov 01 | Scotland
06 Nov 01 | Scotland
02 Nov 01 | Scotland
23 Oct 01 | Scotland
04 Oct 01 | Scotland
13 Jun 01 | Scotland
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