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Political editor Brian Taylor
"Donald Dewar wants to put a lid on the whole thing"
 real 28k

Chief political correspondent John Morrison
"The whole affair is not over yet"
 real 28k

Monday, 13 December, 1999, 17:59 GMT
'No debate' on Rafferty sacking

Donald Dewar Donald Dewar is under intense pressure

Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar has again tried to dampen down the political fires that have raged since he sacked his chief of staff John Rafferty.

He has refused to bow to opposition demands for a full parliamentary debate on the matter.

If Donald Dewar will not volunteer a statement, then one will have to be dragged out of him
SNP leader Alex Salmond
But his resistance has been attacked by opposition parties determined to exploit the controversy.

Mr Dewar spoke after addressing Labour MSPs at a meeting in Glasgow.

"I made it clear in a letter to one of the opposition leaders on Sunday that this was a matter of a breaking down of a working relationship between two people in a very personal appointment," he insisted.

Administration 'united'

"It seemed, therefore, inevitable that we should go our separate ways. But the administration goes on united.

"I notice there have been calls from the opposition for debates on the real issues like unemployment, health and suggesting that this row is distracting from that.

"All I can say is that I too want to get on with the real issues."

Labour's senior party figures have dismissed suggestions that the whole affair has badly damaged the standing of Mr Dewar.

The row began after claims Mr Rafferty misled the media over death threats allegedly made to Health Minister Susan Deacon in the debate over abortion.

Mr Rafferty has denied making misleading statements - but Mr Dewar decided that his working relationship with his closest adviser had been undermined.

SNP leader Alex Salmond said: "In refusing to make a ministerial statement on the Rafferty fiasco, Donald Dewar is showing contempt for parliamentary accountability.

"The first minister was asked seven times last Thursday why he had sacked John Rafferty, and has been asked for the same information in repeated letters.

"If Donald Dewar will not volunteer a statement, then one will have to be dragged out of him.

"Labour seem to be finding democracy in Scotland inconvenient, but there is a Scottish Parliament now, and the days of Scottish ministers being unaccountable are well and truly over.

Sights set on Wallace

Tory leader David McLetchie turned his fire on Labour's coalition partners, the Lib Dems. He demanded a statement from Deputy First Minister Jim Wallace about his role in the matter.

David McLetchie David McLetchie: "Lib Dem lambs"
"Where does Jim Wallace stand in this unseemly crisis? And where, come to that, is his party's usual line-up of rent-a-quote MSPs - the Raffans, the Gorries, the Lyons, to name but three - when it comes to criticising the ineptitude of their partners in the Labour leadership?

"How does Jim Wallace explain the Silence of the Lib-Dem lambs?

"Was he, for example, consulted about the sacking of Executive chief of staff John Rafferty in advance by Donald Dewar, or was he simply sidestepped yet again as an irrelevance?"

Press reports have pointed the finger a variety of sources for the sacking of Mr Rafferty - some said Gordon Brown was to blame.

Others said civil servants in fear of the adviser's suggested reforms for the internal workings of Scottish politics were at the heart of the controversy.

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See also:
12 Dec 99 |  Scotland
MSPs demand Rafferty statement
10 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Trust in adviser 'weakened' - Dewar
10 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Dewar's letter to Salmond
10 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Dewar sacking explanation demand
08 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Rafferty sacking my decision - Dewar
05 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Minister dismisses 'spin doctor' row
02 Dec 99 |  Scotland
'Stalin' jibe over abortions warning
02 Dec 99 |  Scotland
Cardinal condemns sex clinics call
24 Oct 99 |  Scotland
Opposition to abortion clinic plans

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