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Tuesday, 26 November, 2002, 17:37 GMT
Profile: Richard Simpson

Name: Dr Richard Simpson

Born: Edinburgh

Age: 60

Education: Trinity College, Glenalmond. He studied at Edinburgh University where he gained medical qualifications

MSP for: Ochil

Position: Deputy Minister for Justice


Dr Richard Simpson was a GP for almost 30 years before entering the Scottish Parliament in 1999.

In a significant victory for Labour, he beat Nationalist stalwart George Reid to claim the Ochil seat.

The 60-year-old GP was also a qualified psychiatrist with a distinguished record in the medical field.

In addition to being a medical adviser to the Samaritans and the Scottish Prison Service, he also found time to be active in his local constituency Labour Party, serving as vice-chairman and chairman.

Straight-talking style

After two years as a backbench committee member at Holyrood, Dr Simpson was elevated to become deputy justice minister when Jack McConnell became first minister in November 2001.

Originally his straight-talking style won him more friends than enemies but a series of gaffes blighted the latter months of his year in office.

In June he was embarrassed by comments on youth crime which seemed to be at odds with those of the first minister.

He told MSPs that juvenile courts in England had been "an absolute disaster".

This was a view at odds with that of Mr McConnell who said he was considering special fast-track hearings for vandals and other persistent teenage offenders.

Holyrood elections

Dr Simpson's aides were later forced to "clarify" the comments, claiming the minister had not meant any criticism of the English scheme.

In September, he became embroiled in another row when he was accused of shuffling his diary to allow more time for campaigning for next year's Holyrood elections.

Labour Party workers in Dr Simpson's Ochil constituency met civil servants in an attempt to ensure that the minister spent more time in the area.

This followed concern over Dr Simpson's summer workload which meant he could not fully attend to constituency matters.

The weighty responsibility of ministerial matters is not something Dr Simpson needs to let concern him any more.

See also:

13 Jun 02 | Scotland
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