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Last Updated: Monday, 4 October, 2004, 13:11 GMT 14:11 UK
'Piegate' minister has his chips
Frank McAveety
Frank McAveety was appointed culture minister last year
Frank McAveety may be left pondering whether a ministerial sacking, like revenge, is a dish best served cold.

The Glasgow MSP once again finds himself without portfolio after being dumped by First Minister Jack McConnell for the second time.

As culture minister, he found himself in the firing line over controversial cuts at Scottish Opera.

But many feel that his downfall was hastened by a canteen dinner which left him late for parliament.

That gaffe came only days after Mr McAveety was left with egg on his face after a two anti-war protestors were cleared of terrorising him in the street.

Mr McAveety said he had felt the "worst intimidation in his life" while canvassing on Glasgow's south-side - but a sheriff said that he "must live a very sheltered life".

Pie and beans

Sheriff Graeme Warner said the Labour MSP had "completely blown his credibility" by claiming intimidation.

"Frank McAveety's evidence of events was all over the place and it is fair to say he over-egged the pudding," he said.

The following week he found himself on the rack in the Scottish Parliament - all because of a plate of pie, beans and roast potatoes.

Jack McConnell
Jack McConnell has dispensed with Mr McAveety's services twice
He was first in line to answer at ministerial question time on 24 June but his interrogator was faced with an empty seat.

He arrived during the third question on the order paper and breathlessly apologised to MSPs, saying: "I was unavoidably detained there during the Arts Council book awards."

But journalists later said they had seen Mr McAveety eating a meal in the parliament café at about the time he was due to answer the first question.

He later offered an unreserved apology for "inadvertently misleading parliament".

He also apologised to Jack McConnell over the affair, which was quickly dubbed "porky pie-gate".

Cabinet stint

The first minister told Mr McAveety that his behaviour fell below the standard expected of a minister and warned him that it should not happen again.

There will now be no chance of a recurrence after Mr McConnell brought Mr McAveety's cabinet stint to an end.

The former school teacher began his political career as a councillor in Glasgow in 1995.

The cabinet room at Bute House in Edinburgh
The cabinet room at Bute House in Edinburgh
He became the youngest ever leader of the local authority before being elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as MSP for Glasgow Shettleston.

He was appointed deputy local government minister by Donald Dewar, but was stripped of the post in 2001 when Mr McConnell took over from Henry McLeish.

However, he became deputy health minister in the 2002 reshuffle which followed Wendy Alexander's resignation.

Mr McAveety was appointed minister for tourism, culture and sport last year - although he continued to pick up a deputy's salary.

He won praise last year when he announced that the new National Theatre would be based in the Easterhouse area of Glasgow.

Losing jobs

However, he then found himself at the centre of the row over cuts at Scottish Opera.

A total of 88 positions will be cut from a workforce of just over 200 under plans to bringing its debts under control.

Fourteen of the company's 34 singers will lose their jobs this summer, with the remainder being allowed to stay until June 2005.

The cuts also marred the launch of the new Culture Commission, which was announced by Mr McAveety in April as part of his long-awaited review of arts and culture.

Practicing artist

The body, chaired by James Boyle, was set up to review the funding and organisation of the arts.

However, member Craig Armstrong quit after just two days in the job.

The composer attacked plans to scale down Scottish Opera and said he had been unaware that he was the only practising artist on the eight-strong commission.

Married with a son and a daughter, Mr McAveety is known for his love of music.

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