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Last Updated: Friday, 29 September 2006, 12:05 GMT 13:05 UK
Media leak MSP condemns ban order
Mike Pringle
Mike Pringle faces a week's ban from proceedings
An MSP has criticised the decision to bar him from Holyrood meetings for leaking information to a newspaper.

Liberal Democrat Mike Pringle broke the code of conduct for MSPs by giving details about the Shirley McKie fingerprint case to a newspaper.

The Scottish Parliament's Standards Committee recommended that he should be excluded from all meetings of the parliament and its committees.

He said he was surprised by the ban which he called "overly harsh".

The ban on Mr Pringle, MSP for the Edinburgh South constituency, will apply for the next five days that Holyrood is in session.

I was fairly surprised at the decision as it was quite harsh
Mike Pringle
MSP for Edinburgh South

He said: " I put my hand up about this straight away as it was essentially a misunderstanding.

"It was a bit over the top as the information did not do anyone any harm and had been agreed to be published anyway.

"I was fairly surprised as the decision as it was quite harsh. It was interesting that Pauline McNeill, the committee convener, voted against the decision as she obviously thought it was unfair as well."

MSPs voted in favour of the measure by 91 votes to six, with 18 abstentions.

Brian Adam, convener of the Standards Committee, explained that the information the Edinburgh South MSP had leaked was always destined to end up in the public domain.

The issue, he said, was "the timing of the release of the information".

Mr Adam said: "It was then not the gift of any individual member of that committee to make a decision to pre-empt the agreement.

"The sanction proposed is short but we believe is proportionate and reasonable. We do not act out of malice but to send a signal.

Without wages

"Members, all members, should be cautious in their actions and think of the possible consequences."

While most MSPs backed that, Carolyn Leckie of the Scottish Socialist Party complained that the system was unfair and inconsistent.

She contrasted the punishment handed out to Mr Pringle with the one imposed on her and several other SSP MSPs last year for a protest they staged in the parliament's debating chamber.

It resulted in them being banned for a month without wages and allowances.

Ms Leckie, a Central Scotland regional MSP, said: "It's clear to me that the system doesn't produce consistent, proportionate or fair and just outcomes."

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