Scotland politics

Smith report burning councillors suspended for two months

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Media captionThe video was uploaded to YouTube but later removed

Four SNP councillors filmed setting fire to the Smith Commission report on new Holyrood powers have been suspended from the party for two months.

Former council leader Brian Lawson and councillors Will Mylet, Mags MacLaren and Kenny MacLaren were involved in the stunt, carried out in December.

Filmed outside Renfrewshire Council headquarters in Paisley, it was posted on YouTube, but later removed.

SNP officials said their actions fell far short of the standards expected.

Opposition leaders in Scotland had been demanding action from the SNP in the wake of the incident.

The footage, from St Andrew's Day on 30 November, showed the councillors setting fire to a copy of the report above a bin.

Disciplinary hearing

As they did so, Mr Mylet is shown saying: "The Smith Commission report - this is exactly what we think about it.

"No real powers for Scotland yet again from Westminster. We've been lied to again.

"There you go Gordon Brown - cheers."

The original video was taken down but was reposted by others.

Mr MacLaren, a councillor and researcher for SNP MSP Stuart McMillan, was not seen in the video clip.

All four had been suspended by the SNP pending a disciplinary hearing on 21 December.

The party has now said the councillors have been suspended for two months, backdated to the beginning of December.

SNP National Secretary Patrick Grady said: "Following a disciplinary hearing at the end of December, the individuals concerned have been suspended from the party for two months until 3 February.

"It has been made clear to all that their actions fell far short of the high standard of debate expected by both public and party.

"All four accept that this is the case and their suspension has been the penalty for that."

But Scottish Labour described the suspension as a "feeble slap on the wrist to party members who should have known much better".

Councillor Mark MacMillan, the Labour leader of Renfrewshire Council, said: "Burning the Smith Commission was a hugely symbolic gesture - for all the wrong reasons. It was insulting to every Scot who wants to leave the disagreements of the referendum behind and begin the journey of building the fairer and better and nation we all want to live in.

"For these members, their temporary break up with the SNP will be forgotten by Valentine's Day. It's not a punishment, it's a pardon."

'Not acceptable'

The SNP had two representatives on the Smith Commission, which was set up by the UK government to look at how to enhance the current devolved settlement, including Deputy First Minister John Swinney.

While Nationalist leaders have said they believe the report does not go far enough, they have welcomed the new powers that should come to Scotland as a result of the deal.

When the online video clip emerged, Ms Sturgeon said: "Many people are disappointed with the result of the referendum and the level of devolution recommended by the Smith Commission; however, Scotland will only make progress if we debate our views openly and with respect.

"It is essential that, in that debate, conduct does not fall short of the high standard that is rightly expected by the public.

"My clear view is that setting fire to something because you don't agree with it is not acceptable behaviour."

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