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Last Updated: Saturday, 5 May 2007, 13:48 GMT 14:48 UK
Grandfather was SNP election hero
David Thompson MSP
Mr Thompson was the last MSP to be elected
A grandfather whose decision to challenge a Holyrood result clinched election victory for the SNP has been hailed as hero by his party.

Former council official David Thompson was the last MSP to be elected, giving the SNP its one-seat lead over Labour.

But the result came after he demanded a recount of the Highlands and Islands list ballot, which had given Labour four MSPs and the SNP none.

The final result saw Labour get three, the Tories two and the SNP two.

Mr Thompson had lost out in the Ross Skye and Inverness West constituency vote earlier in the day.

With the SNP two seats ahead, the results of the Scottish Parliamentary election hung on which final seven MSPs would be elected from the Highlands and Islands.

Nationalists' hero

Amid huge tension inside the hall of the cavernous Inverness Sports Centre, returning officer Arthur McCourt was about to announce that Labour had won four list seats - which would have given them election victory.

But in dramatic scenes, Mr Thompson stepped in to challenge the figures.

Officials conducted a hasty recount and returned with a new set of results which saw the SNP become the parliament's largest party with a total of 47 seats to Labour's 46.

The last seat to be read out went to the Nationalists' hero of the hour, 57-year-old grandfather Mr Thompson, who will sit at Holyrood for the first time.

We were told that we didn't have any seats in the Highlands and Islands on the list which I knew had to be incorrect
David Thompson MSP

He told the BBC that it felt fantastic to be the 47th SNP MSP.

"It was on a bit of a knife edge for quite a while," Mr Thompson said.

"We didn't get our result until five o'clock. We were the last result in in the country and there was a bit of confusion at the count as well.

"We had to call for a recount of the figures because initially we were told that we didn't have any seats in the Highlands and Islands on the list which I knew had to be incorrect.

"When the returning officer redid the calculations we ended up with two including myself."

Mr Thompson joined the SNP at the age of 16 and said he now hoped to play his part in moving Scotland towards independence.

The winning seat is announced in Inverness

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