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Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July, 2003, 15:46 GMT 16:46 UK
MSP sticks to the law
Gordon Jackson QC
Gordon Jackson QC: Top defence lawyer
A Labour MSP has defended his decison to carry on with his legal work rather than concentrate full-time on politics.

Gordon Jackson, who was re-elected in May to represent the Glasgow Govan constituency, said two years ago that he planned to give up his court work.

Figures released by the Scottish Legal Aid Board on Thursday show that his income from legal aid cases rose by about 10% in the last year to 163,000.

Mr Jackson told BBC Scotland that while it had been his "intention" to give up legal work, he came back to it "for personal reasons".

He said he "was not apologising" and that he fulfilled the two roles "simultaneously".

The Scottish National Party's Nicola Sturgeon, who lost to Mr Jackson in Govan by 1,235 votes, accused him of "hypocrisy".

The Glasgow regional list MSP said: "I think he should decide what his priorities are. I don't know how he can earn that amount in fees and still give his constituents a proper service."

Mr Jackson was quoted in May 2001 as saying: "I had made up my mind some time ago to leave the legal profession and concentrate on parliament, but now I have decided to make a public announcement.

Perhaps he should think of giving his salary as an MSP to a charity for the people of Govan
Colin Fox
Socialist MSP
"I want to clear the air. I have always made it clear my priority would be politics and that is exactly what I am confirming now."

As well as the legal aid earnings, Mr Jackson is paid a salary of 49,315 a year for being an MSP.

Mr Jackson, whose legal aid fees have increased from 127,000 in 2000/01 and 149,000 in 2001/02, said the latest figure would include money for work carried out in previous years.

He said the cost of individual cases did not indicate the amount of work and time that would entail.

"The whole last election was fought on the basis that I was still working. I have had that election and I'm not going to comment any further."

Scottish Socialist MSP Colin Fox described as "an obscenity" the amount of legal aid paid to lawyers.

"It is particularly offensive to see Gordon Jackson making 163,000 while being an MSP and claiming he was scaling down his legal work to concentrate on his constituents in Govan.

"Perhaps he should think of giving his salary as an MSP to a charity for the people of Govan - he certainly doesn't need it to live, and I think he should no longer claim it."




SEE ALSO:
Legal aid earnings revealed
31 Jul 03  |  Scotland
Call for US-style court
14 Jul 03  |  Scotland


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