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Last Updated: Friday, 17 November 2006, 09:43 GMT
Deportation campaign wins award
Sakchai Makao
Sakchai Makao had faced deportation to Thailand
The campaign to block the deportation of a Shetland man to Thailand has won a major accolade at the Scottish Politician of the Year Awards.

The effort to keep Sakchai Makao, 23, in Scotland was named best public campaign of the year at the ceremony.

Health Minister Andy Kerr was named politician of the year for his work on banning smoking in public places.

The SNP's Angus MacNeil was named best Scot at Westminster for sparking the cash-for-honours probe.

His complaint led to the police investigation into whether party donors received honours in return for cash. All those involved deny any wrongdoing.

All these people helped me and that's why I'm here. They deserve it, it pays them back
Sakchai Makao

Mr MacNeil, who contacted the police after dusting off anti-corruption legislation from 1925, was also named Inquisitor of the Year by The Spectator on Thursday.

The public campaign of the year award was given to the people of Shetland.

'Unexpected' win

The community began the fight to halt the deportation of Sakchai Makao after he was taken from his house by immigration officers in June.

Andy Kerr
Andy Kerr has one of the cabinet's toughest roles

A petition calling for his release was signed by more than 8,000 Shetlanders - more than a third of the island's population.

He faced deportation as a foreign national with a criminal record, having spent eight months in jail for fire-raising in 2004.

Although born in Thailand, the lifeguard had lived on Shetland since he was 10.

Islanders took their campaign to Holyrood and Westminster, and in July Makao won his appeal at an immigration tribunal and was allowed to resume his life in Shetland.

He told the BBC Scotland news website: "It's unexpected but it's great for the campaign to win. All these people helped me and that's why I'm here. They deserve it, it pays them back."

The other award winners at the ceremony in Edinburgh included Transport Minister Tavish Scott, who was named Debater of the Year at Holyrood.

Green MSPs
Seven Green MSPs were elected at the last Holyrood vote

The Justice 1 Committee was chosen as committee of the year for its investigations into the Shirley McKie fingerprint case and the Scottish Criminal Records Office.

Labour MSP Karen Gillon, who campaigned to introduce a member's bill on corporate killing, was named free spirit of the year.

The Green Party's seven MSPs picked up the Johnnie Walker award for progress, which is given to those showing the greatest development during the year.

The judges said they had moved from the Holyrood fringes to the brink of a possible coalition after next year's election.

The awards are sponsored by The Herald and drinks firm Diageo.

Difficult role

The newspaper's editor, Charles McGhee, said it had been an extremely tough judging process this year.

He said the health minister had one of the most difficult roles in the cabinet and had seen controversy over issues like hospital closures.

"But Mr Kerr's successful implementation of the smoking ban in public enclosed spaces, in the face of hostile opposition, has dominated the health agenda and has made Scotland a healthier place for everyone," he said.

"It is fitting, therefore, that his role in delivering this ground-breaking piece of legislation - pioneered in the UK by Scotland - should be recognised by these awards."


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
See the reaction of Sakchai



SEE ALSO
Makao clears deportation hurdle
02 Aug 06 |  North East/N Isles
Thai man deport move criticised
28 Jul 06 |  North East/N Isles
Deportee threat man wins appeal
07 Jul 06 |  North East/N Isles
Deportee motion signed by 100 MPs
05 Jul 06 |  North East/N Isles
Deportee threat man says thanks
22 Jun 06 |  North East/N Isles
Campaigning couple win award
11 Nov 04 |  Scotland

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