Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Tuesday, 20 April 2010 15:44 UK

Tory hopeful sorry over NI letter

Peter Lyburn
Peter Lyburn has apologised for using the names without consent

A Conservative candidate has apologised to business leaders in Perth after he used their names to condemn Labour tax plans without permission.

Peter Lyburn, candidate for Perth and North Perthshire, listed 15 names in an open letter attacking Labour's proposed 1% rise in National Insurance.

However, at least four of those included in the letter have said their names were used without consent.

The Tories said Mr Lyburn had personally apologised for the mistake.

Among the signatories of the letter were Paul Shields, president of the Perthshire Chambers of Commerce, John Ferguson, director of Lamb and Gardiner, Allan Proctor, director of A Proctor Group and George Taylor, owner of Taypack Potatoes.

Also included were Douglas Cameron, owner of Cameron Motor Group, Geoff Brown, chairman of GS Brown Construction, Alan Bannerman and Jim Stewart.

'Made public'

Mr Shields has denied being asked to sign the letter and said that the Chamber of Commerce was a cross-party group and that his political views were private.

Labour accused the Conservatives of resorting to "desperate measures" over the letter.

Jamie Glackin, Labour's candidate for the seat, said: "They should have been made aware that they would be politicised in this way.

"This was a pathetic attempt by the Tories to disguise the fact that their policies will be bad for the economy and jobs."

The Liberal Democrat candidate the seat, which was won by the SNP at the last election, said Mr Lyburn's apology was "too little, too late".

Peter Barrett urged Mr Lyburn to withdraw from the campaign altogether.

He added: "It's the job of an MP to represent the people of a community. To use the respected names of local business people in this way is absolutely appalling and completely unacceptable."

The Conservatives have insisted that more than 100 Scottish businesses have signed an open letter condemning Labour's planned National Insurance rise.

A spokesman for the party said: "The issue is not whether these business figures support the policy of scrapping Labour's tax on jobs, it is whether they were happy with their positions being made public."



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