A Scottish Green MSP breached the Scottish Parliament’s code of conduct for failing to declaring a financial interest, a committee has found.
Maggie Chapman was sanctioned by the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee on Thursday.
They found that the North East Scotland MSP did not share a “declarable financial interest” as the former chief operating officer (COO) of Edinburgh Rape Crisis when she questioned the chief executive officer (CEO) of Rape Crisis Scotland at an evidence session on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.
During the Holyrood Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee meeting in May last year, Chapman spoke about the work of Rape Crisis Scotland, saying it has been “trans-inclusive for 15 years” – but she failed to mention her previous work with the Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre.
It is one of a network of 17 independent rape crisis centres with which Rape Crisis Scotland works, but in a written submission to the committee Chapman had claimed the two are “completely separate entities” with “distinct governance, employment and funding arrangements”.
However, Standards Committee convener Martin Whitfield said it considered that a member of the public watching the meeting “might reasonably consider there to be a connection between the two organisations”.
The Standards Committee ruled a “declaration should have been made before pursuing a line of questioning that referenced the network of rape crisis centres which includes Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre”.
Whitfield added: “The committee is of the view that her line of questioning brought the proceedings in closer relation and proximity to her declarable interest.
“A finding of a breach of the 2006 Act and the code of conduct is a serious matter.”
The committee “takes any breaches of the requirements in relation to the failure to declare a registrable financial interest before taking part in any proceedings of the Parliament relating to that matter very seriously”, he added.
Whitfield said the committee unanimously agreed a sanction should be imposed, with members recommending the Green MSP should be excluded from one meeting of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee.
Responding to the sanction, Chapman said: “I acknowledge the decision taken by the Committee. I am disappointed that they came to this conclusion.
“I have never sought to hide my previous employment with a rape crisis centre, which ended on 30 June 2021. This is published in my written Register of Interests and I also declared it at the first meeting of the Committee.
“It is also clear that there could be no way in which I, or anyone else, could gain financially or otherwise from my engagement in Committee proceedings.
“I simply, if mistakenly, did not view my former employment, which had ceased months before the Committee meeting, as being of enough significance to make further oral declarations.
“I appreciate the consideration of this matter by members of the SPPA Committee due to my omission to declare my past work supporting rape survivors. I will strive to avoid any such confusion in future.
“While I acknowledge the one meeting sanction imposed, it is in my view unprecedented compared with previous considerations of complaints against other MSPs.
“I apologise to colleagues who have to deal with it and thank them for their courtesy in considering this matter.”
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