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Monday, 2 September, 2002, 13:17 GMT 14:17 UK
CBI chief accepts 'prat' apology
Digby Jones
Digby Jones said he and the minister are on good terms
Britain's most senior business leader has accepted an apology from a Scottish minister who called him an "English prat".

Digby Jones, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI), said it was time to "move on" after the comment by Ross Finnie and added that the two men were on the best of terms.

The Scottish rural affairs minister made the remark following a speech on Friday evening in Glasgow in which Mr Jones said the Scottish Executive must do more to assist business.

Mr Jones said he had overheard Mr Finnie making the remark in conversation with other people.


I think it is symptomatic of the fact that he probably would not have referred to someone of a different coloured skin, different religion, different other part of the world in that way

Digby Jones

The minister said he had since written to Mr Jones "apologising for any offence".

Mr Jones said: "I think, frankly, the best thing everybody can do is move on, draw the line and get on with making Scotland prosperous.

"In public life these things happen, that's what I'm paid for."

However, Mr Jones added: "I think it is symptomatic of the fact that he probably would not have referred to someone of a different coloured skin, different religion, different other part of the world in that way.

'Global' outlook

"But for some reason it seems as if you can say it about the English and that's the thing that I think is important.

"Perhaps it does highlight that Scotland has got to actually look far more global."

Mr Jones said the problem was "not endemic" but has to be addressed.

Ross Finnie
Ross Finnie has written to the CBI leader

The CBI leader revealed that he and the minister had "a good old chat" about his speech on Friday evening and they exchanged business cards.

"I have to say, we ended on the best of terms and I don't just say that for political spin 48 hours later, I genuinely mean it," he said.

Mr Jones had said that Scottish ministers should be aiming to improve wealth creation rather than concentrating on the redistribution of wealth.

'Out of context'

The CBI leader then caused controversy when he suggested that people living in Scotland had "an enormous chip on their shoulder".

The minister said he could not recall using the exact words "English prat" and his comment had been taken out of context.

However, he said he had written to Mr Jones and CBI Scotland leader Iain MacMillan "apologising for any offence I may have caused".

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Kirtsen Campbell reports
"Mr Finnie has not had his troubles to seek"
Digby Jones
"These things happen in public life, that's what I'm paid for"
BBC Scotland's Glenn Campbell
"Ross Finnie is starting to look a bit accident prone"
See also:

01 Sep 02 | Scotland
30 Aug 02 | Scotland
10 Dec 01 | Scotland
06 Nov 01 | Business
27 Jul 01 | Scotland
06 Apr 00 | Scotland
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