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BBC Scotland Political Correspondent Briann Taylor
"The first minister said he had lost confidence in his adviser"
 real 28k

Political Correspondent Elizabeth Quigley
"Mr Rafferty said it would be dishonourable to say anything about his employment by the first minister"
 real 28k

Mark Irvine, employment adviser
"No one should be treated as Mr Rafferty has been treated"
 real 28k

Friday, 7 January, 2000, 20:19 GMT
Rafferty refutes dossier 'threat'

Dewar, Deacon, Rafferty graphic Donald Dewar, Susan Deacon and John Rafferty

The former chief aide to Scottish First Minister Donald Dewar says he has no intention of lifting the lid on the circumstances surrounding his sacking.

The controversial dismissal of John Rafferty was back on the political agenda on Friday when it was rumoured he was ready to speak publicly about the affair.

Mr Rafferty's adviser Mark Irvine had told Radio Scotland that a detailed dossier would be sent to MSPs - unless Mr Dewar publicly explained why he sacked his former chief of staff.

But in an apparent U-turn Mr Rafferty said he would not disclose anything about his employment or experiences.

Mark Irvine Mark Irvine: Prepared to go public
He said: "There are no circumstances in which I will say anything or be made to say anything about my employment or my experience in working with the first minister, that would be dishonourable."

The senior aide left his 70,000-a-year-plus job under a cloud and amid a series of allegations.

The most damaging was that he misled journalists by telling them Health Minister Susan Deacon received death threats from anti-abortion extremists in an attempt to win sympathy for her.

Alongside that allegation Mr Rafferty was also reported to have been "over-spinning" on other issues, much to the annoyance of Mr Dewar.

It was further alleged he was involved in internecine Labour struggles involving chief press officer David Whitton and Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid and spats with senior civil servants.

Opposition on the attack

The nature of his dismissal led to fierce criticism of Mr Dewar, with opposition parties complaining that they had not received a proper explanation for the dismissal of a man paid from the public purse.

Friday's fresh controversy prompted the Scottish National Party and the Tories to step up pressure on the majority Labour administration.

MSPs in chamber MSPs demanded a debate on the Rafferty sacking
SNP Leader Alex Salmond said the first minister still had a duty to tell the public exactly why he sacked his former friend Mr Rafferty.

He said: "I think all the information should be circulated, I think it's part of the public interest.

"This is not a private matter. John Rafferty was a highly paid government adviser and therefore why he was sacked is a matter of public interest.

"Donald Dewar and his administration are in deep trouble. He's in deep trouble because of his refusal last month, despite the many, many questions I asked him, to give a proper explanation of what exactly was going on."

Scottish Conservative Leader David McLetchie MSP said: "It's time for Donald Dewar to finally come clean over the whole Rafferty affair.

"Not only because of Mr Rafferty's kiss and tell threat to inform the media about his stormy relationship with Donald Dewar but because the public have a right to know."

Mr Dewar spoke guardedly about the sacking at the time, but he added that the matter was not for in-depth discussion.

Mr Rafferty considered his dismissal by his former close friend Mr Dewar to be unfair.

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See also:
13 Dec 99 |  Scotland
'No debate' on Rafferty sacking
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

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