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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 October 2007, 15:24 GMT
'I didn't nobble election expert'
Douglas Alexander
Mr Alexander apologised over the Scottish elections fiasco
The former secretary of state for Scotland Douglas Alexander said he did not "nobble" the man hired to look into May's election fiasco.

His statement comes after election expert Ron Gould wrote a "clarifying" letter which appeared to distribute blame among all political parties.

Mr Alexander added he had been "big enough" to apologise for the mistakes.

But Tory Party chairman Caroline Spelman said the Labour politician had yet to say sorry at Westminster.

She was critical that Sunday's statement by Mr Alexander, who is now the International Development Secretary, was made during an "exclusive television interview" broadcast on BBC Scotland's Politics Show.

Ms Spelman said: "I think he [Douglas Alexander] needs to come to parliament to make that apology.

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"It is something completely different to give an exclusive interview, quite a lengthy one actually, where he explains from his perspective what went wrong, and I noticed he tried to spread the blame around everyone else."

Mr Gould, the former assistant chief electoral officer of Canada, was appointed to lead the inquiry into why the election resulted in 140,000 spoiled ballots and a counting process which ended in a debacle.

In his long-awaited report, published on Tuesday, he said that in the planning process, the Scotland Office and the then Labour/Liberal Democrat Scottish Government were frequently focused on "partisan political interests".

By Friday it emerged that Mr Gould had written a letter to the Electoral Commission making it clear that "all political parties were concerned with the potential political advantage".

'Honourable thing'

During the Politics Show programme, broadcast on Sunday, the interviewer Glenn Campbell asked Mr Alexander if he had nobbled Mr Gould.

The politician said: "I think it is an outrageous suggestion without any basis in fact whatsoever.

"I last spoke to Ron Gould in the early summer when, in the sole conversation I had with him, he wanted to discuss my role and the role of the Scotland Office."

Ron Gould
Ron Gould published his findings into the election

The Scottish National Party's John Swinney said that although Mr Alexander was no longer the secretary of state for Scotland it was still relevant for him to "consider his position".

He added that the UK Government had yet to make it clear if it was going to accept all Mr Gould's recommendations, including suggestions that the Scottish Parliament should look after future Holyrood and local authority elections.

In his first interview since the Gould report was published, Mr Alexander said: "Well I said back in May that if there was judgements reached in the Gould report about the conduct of the Scotland Office then I would of course consider apologising.

"It seemed the honourable thing to do and when I read the report, there clearly was criticism of the decisions reached and the manner in which they were reached and it therefore seemed appropriate to honour my word and apologise to the people of Scotland, who were inadvertently disenfranchised."

He added: "I had legal obligations as secretary of state for Scotland. I have accepted responsibility and have apologised for that."

SEE ALSO
Alexander makes election apology
24 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Blog: Blether with Brian
24 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Probe says May poll failed voters
23 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Reliving the election night chaos
23 Oct 07 |  Scotland
May elections review at-a-glance
23 Oct 07 |  Scotland
Ballots 'rejected automatically'
03 Sep 07 |  Scotland

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