Monday, September 27, 1999 Published at 14:51 GMT 15:51 UK
Dewar and Reid 'rift' widening
Left to right: Dr John Reid, Donald Dewar and Tony Blair
There are signs of a widening rift between the Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid and First Minister Donald Dewar over newspaper allegations of improper access to ministers.
Donald Dewar has backed calls for a Scottish Parliament inquiry into newspaper reports that a lobbying company, Beattie Media, which employs the Secretary of State's son Kevin, was offering privileged access to Scottish Executive Ministers.
The row has reignited speculation of a deep chasm between the two political leaders, with rumblings of discontent reported between the two arms of government throughout the summer.
While Dr Reid said his son has nothing to apologise for, Mr Dewar pointed out that ministers had been cleared of blame because Beattie Media has apologised.
"That has cleared the names of ministers who were put into the frame by the whole affair and I'm very relieved and pleased about that."
Mr Dewar said it is now up to the Scottish Parliament's Standards and Privileges Committee, which meets on Wednesday, to establish the ground rules for lobbying companies.
The first minister denied he had over-reacted to the story and added: "I'm not in the business of confrontation and I don't think there is confrontation.
"I don't think anyone is denying that this story is unimportant. It's not something that could have been ignored by any of us an isn't being ignored by any of us."
Senior ministers have said they are dismayed by Dr Reid's reaction and Mr Dewar and his executive have asked the standards committee in the Scottish Parliament to examine the affair and the role of lobbyists.
The controversy had clearly overshadowed what was being hailed as a triumphant conference appearance by Mr Dewar - the first since the opening of the Scottish Parliament.
Mr Dewar told the conference that Labour was building the "the sort of Scotland we have always wanted" through devolution and fulfilling its promises to the people of Scotland.