Wendy Alexander resignation

Well she finally did the decent thing and resigned.

It was seven months ago the Sunday Herald broke the story about her dodgy campaign pledges.

Seven months since campaign manager Tom McCabe admitted live on television that she had broke the law in obtaining an illegal donation from businessman Paul Green.

Six months since we learned that she also broke the law when not registering these ‘gifts’ in the MSPs register of interests in due course. Jim Dyer, the Standards Comissioner, refers the matter to the Procurator Fiscal in February.

The Electoral Comission also decide in February that although Alexander broke the law over donations they would not refer the matter to the Procurator Fiscal as it was “not in the public interest”!

The Procurator Fiscal also announces that it would not be pursuing further action to the Standards Comissioner’s complaint in March.

The Standards Comissioner hands his report to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee in June. They agree with the conclusions of the report which indicate that Wendy Alexander broke the law. As a consequence they ban Wendy Alexander from the Scottish Parliament for one day.

Wendy resigns. “It is with deep regret that I write today to tender my resignation following the decisions of the Standards Committee this week.”

It was a resignation speech which lacked grace and one which tried to blame her situation on nationalists citing “SNP inspired complaints and investigations”.

That is laughable. She broke the law, and the Standards Commitee has punished her by giving her a one day ban of the Scottish Parliament. In my book, that’s getting off lightly.

The Sunday Herald today quotes : “Seven months after the Sunday Herald revealed her dodgy donation… Wendy Alexander finally resigns.” and largely takes credit for instigating her demise. Hardly an SNP investigation or complaint – or did the Sunday Herald’s unionist editorial policy suddenly shift whilst I was on holiday?

There were nationalist supporters who complained about her illegal conduct. Rightly as it turns out – so what’s wrong with that? Alexander’s comments could be likened to a Scooby Doo villain complaining that they only got caught because of pesky kids.

Finally, the claim that she had asked clerks for advice on registration, and they told her she need not register the donations…

This was a quick email, an afterthought by Wendy Alexander. She had already not declared most of her donations in the thirty days grace period. She had already broke this law.

The advice given to her by the clerks may have been inaccurate, but since the law was already broken I suspect they had little incentive to check its validity. Besides, the rule for all donations and gifts they most often quote is ‘If in doubt, declare it’.

The email afterthought shows that Wendy Alexander had doubts; otherwise why ask their advice in the first place?

As the legally responsible person she could have just registered the donations anyway.

Blaming the Standards Comissioner is just a cop-out. He needs to be independent and seek independent legal advice. Otherwise he would just be investigating procedures and cases where he has a clear conflict of interest.

I’ll leave the last words to the Sunday Herald: “Her defence against the verdicts of the comissioner and the Standards Committee – that was told by the parliament’s clerks that registration was not unnecessary – was as weak as it was irrelevant.

“Alexander had asked for advice from the clerks in November last year on the status of her donations, 60 days after some of the campaign cheques had been banked, despite the law clearing stating that MSPs have 30 days to declare gifts.

“Put simply, Alexander asked for advice on registration well after she had broken the rules, a fact that rendered any feedback from the Standards Commitee as worthless.”

Much like her time as leader.


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