Page last updated at 12:39 GMT, Thursday, 10 July 2008 13:39 UK

Report re-ignites donations row

Wendy Alexander
Ms Alexander insisted she acted on advice from officials

Wendy Alexander was advised that donations to her Scottish Labour leadership campaign should be declared, it has emerged.

The guidance, from a Holyrood official, came out in the official report into a complaint about her campaign donations.

But Ms Alexander said she was later told the cash gifts did not have to be put on her MSP register of interests.

The donations row saga led to the Paisley North MSP's resignation as Scottish Labour leader.

Ms Alexander quit after Holyrood's standards committee found she breached the rules by failing to declare the cash gifts and recommended she be banned from parliament for one day - a move MSPs will vote on after the summer recess.

She insisted she initially acted on the advice of committee clerks, before subsequently adding details of the donations to her register.

She sought and received unambiguous written advice from the parliament's clerks
Spokesman for Wendy Alexander

The newly-published official report into the complaint, which has re-ignited the donations row, was branded "highly-flawed and partisan" by Labour, while the SNP described it as a damning and embarrassing publication.

The report contained notes of a discussion between Ms Alexander and a standards committee clerk on 8 November last year.

The clerk said it was explained to her that "any donation could be considered as a gift and therefore it would be required to be registered if it exceeded 520 and met the prejudice test".

It was not clear from the report what time the conversation took place, but Scottish Labour insisted it happened before Ms Alexander was sent a message from the clerk later that day.

The message said: "Given the circumstances that you have outlined to us below, this does not require to be registered under either 'gifts' or 'election expenses'."

The response came after Ms Alexander told the clerk that the donations were not made to her personally and she could not withdraw the cash.

A spokesman for the former leader said: "She sought and received unambiguous written advice from the parliament's clerks, based in turn on written advice from the parliament's lawyers, yet the committee decided to punish her for following that very advice."

Ms Alexander's successor is expected to be in place in September.


SEE ALSO
SNP denies Alexander bias claims
29 Jun 08 |  Scotland
Standards watchdog defends role
29 Jun 08 |  Scotland
Alexander quits as Labour leader
28 Jun 08 |  Scotland

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