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Thursday, 5 September, 2002, 11:52 GMT 12:52 UK
McLeish announces political exit
Henry McLeish in car
Henry McLeish became embroiled in controversy
Former Scottish First Minister Henry McLeish has revealed that he intends to quit elected politics.

Mr McLeish, who resigned as first minister following controversy over office expenses, said he would not be seeking re-election to the Central Fife seat at next year's Scottish parliamentary elections.

Scottish Labour had said it would not endorse Mr McLeish as a candidate for the elections until the long-running police investigation into the so-called Officegate affair has concluded.

Julie Fulton
Mr McLeish's wife plans court action
In a statement, Mr McLeish said: "After 30 years experience fighting, and 28 in public office I am today announcing my intention to withdraw from elected politics.

"I will not take part in the forthcoming parliament elections and have, of course, informed my local party."

He added that he intended to remain active in Scottish public life and would continue his contribution to "our social and economic advancement".

Mr McLeish became embroiled in the row in 2001 after it emerged that he had sub-let his constituency office to outside organisations when he was Westminster MP for Central Fife.

He agreed to pay 9,000 to the Westminster Fees Office and insisted he had not done anything wrong, dubbing the matter a "muddle not a fiddle".

However, the disclosure of further sub-lets led to his resignation and he eventually paid back 38,500.

Internal investigation

In July, it was reported that Mr McLeish repaid the Westminster authorities with money from a 30,000 "golden handshake" to Scottish MPs who gave up their Westminster seats to become MSPs.

Mr McLeish's wife, Julie Fulton, announced last month that she was quitting her job at Fife Council and planned to sue the authority.

Earlier this year she had denied suggestions that she may have acted improperly in her dealings with a charity linked to her husband's political downfall.

Tricia Marwick
Tricia Marwick: "Worst kept secret
She was named in Fife Council's internal investigation into Officegate.

Reacting to the announcement, First Minister Jack McConnell said: "This must have been a very difficult personal decision.

"I hope this will be the end of what must have been a difficult period for Henry and his family, and I would like to wish him and his family well for the future."

Scottish National Party MSP Tricia Marwick said the depature was "the worst kept secret in Scottish politics".


Henry McLeish was a major public embarrassment to the Labour Party, which will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at this decision

David McLetchie, Scots Tory leader
She said: "Now the Labour activists in Central Fife, who have been working behind the scenes to secure the nomination for themselves, will be forced out into the open provoking a bloodbath as they tear each other apart."

Ms Marwick said the Officegate affair "was not just about Henry McLeish - it was about how the Labour Party in Fife conducts itself".

Scottish Tory leader David McLetchie said: "Henry McLeish was right to resign as first minister when he did.

"Henry McLeish was a major public embarrassment to the Labour Party, which will be breathing a huge sigh of relief at this decision.

"Nevertheless, we should remember that Henry McLeish and the events that brought him down were symptomatic of the culture of cronyism that is still rife within the Scottish Labour Party today."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Political editor Brian Taylor
"Henry McLeish has had enough"
Political correspondent Kirsten Campbell
"As devolution minister he steered the legislation to give Scotland its own parliament through the House of Commons"

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05 Sep 02 | Scotland
07 Mar 02 | Scotland
06 Mar 02 | Scotland
08 Feb 02 | Scotland
31 Jan 02 | Scotland
08 Nov 01 | Scotland
06 Nov 01 | Scotland
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