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Donald Dewar Tuesday, 25 April, 2000, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Dewar undergoes heart tests
Donald Dewar
Mr Dewar is undergoing tests in a Glasgow hospital
BBC News Online looks back at how we reported Donald Dewar's heart illness.

Scotland's First Minister Donald Dewar has been taken to hospital for tests on his heart.

Mr Dewar's personal spokesman, David Whitton, said the 62-year-old would not face any immediate surgery and had been admitted to Glasgow Royal Infirmary.

The MP for Glasgow Anniesland had undergone tests a month ago which had indicated a "minor irregularity" and was asked to undergo further examination.

David Whitton
David Whitton: "No imminent surgery"

Mr Whitton said: "He will not be undergoing any surgery today. He is not going in for a heart bypass or anything like that.

"He has now gone in for further tests in the cardiac unit in Glasgow Royal Infirmary."

The spokesman insisted the hospital visit had been pre-arranged, for a period when Mr Dewar's schedule would permit it.

But he added: "Clearly, he is as concerned about his health as anyone else would be."

He declined to discuss whether Mr Dewar had himself experienced any symptoms and said no bulletins would be issued by the hospital.

Busy diary

Appealing for privacy on his behalf, Mr Whitton said: "He is Donald Dewar, First Minister - but he is also Donald Dewar, citizen, as well."

Since his initial tests at Stobhill hospital, and the latest tests at Glasgow Royal Infirmary, Mr Dewar has been engaged in a busy round of duties, including a visit to Japan and a speech last week to the Scottish TUC annual conference in Edinburgh.

Donald Dewar - biography
Born 21 August, 1937
Educated Glasgow Academy and Glasgow University
Qualified lawyer
Joined the Labour Party in 1950s
Married Alison McNair in 1964
Divorced in 1973
Labour MP for Aberdeen South in 1966
Lost 1970 election
Returned as MP for Glasgow Garscadden in 1978
Now represents Glasgow Anniesland
Labour chief whip 1990s
Scottish Secretary 1997
First Minister for Scotland 1999

Consideration had been given over whether to cancel the overseas trip. But Mr Dewar decided to go ahead with the long-standing engagement.

Mr Whitton said: "The First Minister is not a man who complains about how he is feeling or the state of his health.

"He had gone in for a normal checkup, and this was detected in the course of that normal check."

Mr Dewar is expected to leave hospital on Wednesday, but the date of his return to work was less clear.

His spokesman said that it could be later this week or the beginning of next week but added: "We don't know what the doctors will say once they have examined him this afternoon."

Mr Dewar's duties as first minister will be carried out in his absence by Mr Wallace, and any political issues will fall to the relevant Scottish ministers.

Scottish National Party Leader Mr Alex Salmond MSP said of the health scare news: "I'm sure the whole parliament will join together in sending our best wishes to the First Minister and I hope that these tests give him a clean bill of health."

Labour MP Anne Begg said that there had been no indication that Mr Dewar had been unwell.

"He certainly looked fine the last few times I have saw him," said the Aberdeen South MP.

'At the sharp end'

A member of the Commons Scottish Affairs Select Committee, Ms Begg wished her former Commons colleague a speedy recovery.

"Obviously it's difficult to speak at length because we don't know what it is."

But the disabled MP added: "As somebody who has been at the sharp end of the NHS I know the NHS will take very good care of him," she said.

Mr Dewar, who is divorced with two children, has been under more pressure than he might have anticipated since his appointment as first minister in the new Scottish Parliament last year, with the Scottish Executive enduring a series of controversies.

He is due to face what is expected to be a fierce debate on Thursday when the first stage of the Ethical Standards in Public Life Bill, proposing the abolition of Section 28, is discussed.

The first minister has also recently taken the brunt of criticism over the cost of the new parliament building at Holyrood which spiralled to almost five times its original estimate to 230m before MSPs voted to cap it at around 195m last month.

Political editor Brian Taylor
"This was said to be a scheduled appointment"
John Morrison, chief political correspondent
"Mr Dewar's spokesman said there is no cause for concern"
Click on the stories to find out more

Key stories

The tributes

Filling the void


See also:

31 Jan 00 | Scotland
09 Mar 00 | Scotland
28 Jul 99 | UK Politics
10 Mar 00 | Scotland
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