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Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 16:41 GMT 17:41 UK

UK: Scotland

Reid defends lobby row son

John Reid: "Squalid and contemptible journalism"

The Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid has made a strong and emotional defence of his son, who was the focus of allegations of parliamentary lobbying allegations.

Dr John Reid defends his son over lobbying allegations
Kevin Reid was named in an Observer newspaper article which claimed to expose the lobbying methods of Beattie Media - one of Scotland's biggest PR firms.

Mr Reid works for the company, which has now apologised for any embarrassment caused to those named in the piece.

On Monday, Dr Reid said he was proud of his son, who was alleged to have offered a journalist posing as a businessman privileged access to ministers at a secretly filmed meeting.

[ image: Donald Dewar has welcomed Beattie Media's apology]
Donald Dewar has welcomed Beattie Media's apology
He insisted Kevin was the target of "squalid" journalism.

Dr Reid said he did not know whether he himself would be damaged politically as a result and added it would be up to others to judge.

Dr Reid told the BBC: "They set out to entrap him. They had an elaborate misrepresentation - they brought him to the premises under misrepresentation.

"They tried for an hour to get Kevin to say that he would give access and he did exactly the opposite.

"As anyone who has read this transcript can see it is a squalid piece of journalism as regards my son."

Beattie Media's apology was welcomed by Scottish First Minister Donald Dewar who said the matter was an extremely unpleasant one.

Mr Dewar has announced plans for the Scottish Parliament's standards committee to hold an inquiry into the affair.

Regulation and control

Mr Dewar added that regulation and control of lobbying companies must be given real and urgent consideration.

But he said he did not believe that any minister had breached the parliamentary code on standards.

Beattie Media has now suspended its parliamentary lobbying arm pending its own internal investigation.

The Observer's Scottish editor, Dean Nelson said his newspaper would stand by its story and has offered the Scottish Parliament's standards committee a copy of the film.

Observer editor Dean Nelson defends his newspaper's story
He said: "I can understand (Dr Reid) wanting to defend his son but the fact is his son has let him down and John Reid is going to have to face up to that.

"The Observer investigation is on film and this film will be presented to the standards committee when it considers the role of lobbies on Wednesday."

The episode was viewed as an embarrassment to the Labour Party as it began its annual conference in Bournemouth.

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