No sanction for Labour MSP after ‘minor’ conduct breach

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack failed to declare earnings from a previous job.

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack breached Holyrood’s Code of Conduct when she failed to declare earnings from her previous job.

But the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee has decided not to impose any punishment for what it described as a “minor and inadvertent breach” of the rules.

Boyack returned for a second stint as an MSP after former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale left the Scottish Parliament.

Ms Dugdale had been a list MSP for the Lothian region and Boyack, who had previously served as an MSP between 1999 and 2016, took her place as the next person on the party’s list.

Following her return, a complaint was made that she did not include remuneration from her previous employment as the head of public affairs at the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations in her register of interests.

Boyack updated her register of interests when informed about the matter by the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, Caroline Anderson.

MSPs on the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee agreed with the commissioner that it was a breach of Holyrood’s Code of Conduct and of the Members Interest Act 2006.

But they said a second complaint, that Ms Boyack had failed to declare this as an interest at a meeting of the Parliament’s Local Government Committee in September 2019, was not a breach.

Standards Committee convener Bill Kidd said: “The complaint against Sarah Boyack was not related to a matter from which she could have gained any financial benefit and there was no attempt to conceal the information which Ms Boyack made available on the Parliament’s website.

“Furthermore, she took steps to update her register when the commissioner informed her that she had concluded a breach had occurred.”

He added there were “not many examples of members having registered remuneration received prior to their return as an MSP”, meaning there was “limited precedent to draw on which might have informed how the relevant rules should be applied in practice”.

Mr Kidd said: “Taking into account these considerations, the committee has decided not to recommend a sanction on this occasion.”

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