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Gillian Marles reports
"Visitscotland said it regretted the withdrawal"
 real 56k

Monday, 23 April, 2001, 22:19 GMT 23:19 UK
Tourist chief 'goes' after posts row
Rod Lynch
Mr Lynch was unveiled as the new chief on Thursday
It has emerged that the man selected to head tourism agency visitscotland will not now take up the post after a row over his business interests.

Rod Lynch, who was to be paid 145,000 as the chief executive of visitscotland, had planned to continue as chief executive and chairman of Essex-based air cargo firm Global Supply Systems.

The job offer was withdrawn after the extent of Mr Lynch's work commitments with the private air cargo firm became clear.

Scottish National Party leader John Swinney has called for the Scottish Executive ministers responsible to resign over the "litany of incompetence".

Controversy engulfed the appointment on Thursday after it emerged that Mr Lynch would be using a forthcoming business trip to the Unites States for "leisure purposes".

SNP leader John Swinney
John Swinney: Resignation call
Opposition parties accused him of being insensitive to the needs of the Scottish tourist industry at a time when it is struggling to cope with the effects of foot-and-mouth disease.

Further allegations about his private life and reports of a row between First Minister Henry McLeish and Enterprise Minister Wendy Alexander over the timing of his appointment also added to the controversy.

The revelations about Mr Lynch's role with GSS added fuel to the row.

Visitscotland said in a statement: "With regret, following clarification of the nature of Rod Lynch's other commitments, visitscotland's offer of employment to him to be chief executive has had to be withdrawn.

"The executive nature of his contract with Global Supply Systems was incompatible with his intended role as chief executive of visitscotland."

'Mismanagement' claims

The move followed a meeting between Scottish Executive ministers and visitscotland chiefs.

The executive said it was not making any comment about the decision taken by visitscotland.

Mr Swinney said: "Just last Thursday, Labour ministers were trumpeting Rod Lynch's appointment, but now he has been ignominiously dumped.

Tourist information
Foot-and-mouth has plunged the industry into crisis
"This is an astonishing litany of incompetence and mismanagement by Labour ministers, who have treated the Scottish tourism industry - Scotland's biggest employer - in a shameful manner as it faces its biggest ever challenge.

"Henry McLeish, Wendy Alexander, and Alasdair Morrison must make full public statements outlining their role in this shambles.

"The government approved Rod Lynch's appointment, so there can be no hiding place for the responsible ministers.

"This is the biggest mess of Henry McLeish's crisis-ridden administration.

Parliament question

"Any minister or ministers involved in this catastrophe should follow Rod Lynch, and offer their resignation from office."

David McLetchie
David McLetchie: "Embarrassing fiasco"
The SNP has said it plans to table a question in the parliament about the whole selection process for Mr Lynch's post.

Tory Leader David McLetchie blamed Scottish ministers for the fiasco surrounding Mr Lynch's appointment.

He said: "Bitter experience has taught us to expect embarrassing fiascos and humiliating climbdowns from the Scottish Executive, but this sorry episode really does take the biscuit.

"The foot-and-mouth crisis has brought our tourism industry to its knees, but all Labour and the Lib Dems managed to do was pour petrol on the flames.

"It took only a matter of days for Rod Lynch to be exposed as being more of a hindrance than a help to Scottish tourism.

"You have to wonder how much longer we will have to wait before Henry, Wendy and the rest of the executive's hangers on are informed that they have long outlived their own uselessness."

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