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SCANDAL TORY SNEAKS BACK INTO OLD JOB; ANGER AS FARMER ON FRONT BENCHES AGAINReturn for MSP who quit over lobbying row.

Byline: John Ferguson | Political Editor

A Tory MSP who was forced to quit his front-bench job amid a conflict of interest scandal has been brought back into the fold.

Peter Chapman stood down as his party's rural economy spokesman in May last year after it emerged he had lobbied for a business in which he held a PS50,000 stake.

The wealthy farmer urged councillors in Aberdeenshire to approve a controversial planning application without revealing his interest.

He spoke to several members of the council's Garioch area committee about proposals from Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) over the co-operative's plans to expand their operation in the Inverurie area.

Chapman rang councillors to promote the scheme without mentioning he had a huge amount of his own cash invested in ANM.

After the Sunday Mail's sister paper the Daily Record exposed the scandal, Chapman stood down from his shadow cabinet position.

But in an update from the party released last week during the chaos of Brexit negotiations, it was revealed Chapman was again listed in his old role. The SNP said: "Peter Chapman was forced to quit in disgrace after he was caught out lobbying for a business he held shares in. These actions were serious enough for him to quit the Tory front bench but now he's being quietly rehabilitated, with the scandal swept under the rug."

Previously in his resignation letter to former party leader Ruth Davidson, Chapman admitted he had made calls to several councillors without mentioning his connection to the scheme in question.

He wrote: "I failed to maintain the high standards of transparency that are expected of MSPs. As a result, I cannot in all conscience continue in post, hence my reason for offering my resignation.

"I deeply regret this incident and I only hope people will see it for what it is: an honest mistake made while trying to help my local constituents and the Aberdeenshire economy."

In November last year, Chapman was cleared of wrongdoing by Scotland's ethics watchdog after a complaint was lodged with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life.

The commissioner found no evidence the 69-year-old took part in "paid advocacy" or paid lobbying, which is banned under the MSPs' code of conduct.

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rehabilitated Chapman is now back in rural post

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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Sep 8, 2019
Words:384
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