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Friday, 8 March, 2002, 14:38 GMT
McLeish 'angry' over Officegate
Office sign
The charity sub-let part of Mr McLeish's office
Former First Minister Henry McLeish has condemned the treatment of his wife and himself over the Officegate scandal.

His retaliation comes as Fife councillors meet in private to consider a controversial report into the charity linked to his downfall as first minister.

The Central Fife MSP, who resigned from the top job, when the row over the sub-letting of his constituency office exploded last year, said he was very angry at the way his wife had been dragged into the affair.

The council report, which had been extensively leaked beforehand, has now been officially published but does not name the staff involved because they face disciplinary proceedings.

I'm not Catholic, I'm not Protestant, I didn't go to Glasgow University, and I'm not part of the Lanarkshire mafia

Henry McLeish
Mr McLeish's wife Julie, a senior social worker, is referred to only as employee D.

Mrs McLeish, 47, is said to have approved grants for the defunct Third Age charity, which rented space in her husband's constituency office.

He said: "The past few months have been extraordinarily difficult.

"I resigned my job to protect the most cherished post in Scottish politics but what has really made me angry over the past few months is the difficulties that my wife has experienced with her employers.

"She was strong for me when I needed it.

"She is now being treated, in my view, very badly by the council and the report has outraged her and made her very angry indeed."

Internal investigation

He also revealed that he believed his background made him an outsider within Labour when he was first minister.

He said: "I'm not Catholic, I'm not Protestant, I didn't go to Glasgow University, and I'm not part of the Lanarkshire mafia."

Fife Council's standards and audit committee will decide whether or not to accept the findings of an internal investigation into the funding of the Third Age charity.

Henry and Julie McLeish
Mr McLeish is protecting his wife
The report, by chief executive Douglas Sinclair, blames council officials for granting money to the charity after it was wound up.

One recommendation is that councillors accept there is no evidence money paid to Third Age went astray.

The report revealed that Mr Sinclair found there were failures on the part of council staff and that the rules should be tightened to avoid the perception of cronyism and conflicts of interest.

The 10-member standards committee can either accept these findings in full or in part, add their own recommendations or ask for further work to be carried out.

The special meeting to consider the report is expected to last several hours.

See also:

07 Mar 02 | Scotland
McLeish's wife seeks legal advice
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