Scotland politics

Ruth Davidson urges MSPs to refer her to standards commissioner

Ruth Davidson Image copyright Tulchan Communications
Image caption Ms Davidson has confirmed she is unlikely to seek re-election in 2021

Ruth Davidson has urged MSPs who believe she has breached parliamentary rules to refer her to the standards commissioner.

The former leader of the Scottish Conservatives is facing calls to resign after taking on a paid job with a lobbying firm.

Tulchan Communications will pay her £50,000 for 25 days' work a year on top of her MSP salary of £63,579.

But Ms Davidson said she conducted "due diligence" before taking the job.

Critics have accused her of bringing the Scottish Parliament "into disrepute" and claimed that her new role was a conflict of interest.

In a new statement, the former BBC journalist said she conducted "due diligence" on Tulchan and by meeting with the parliament's standards clerks to go through the code of conduct for MSPs to ensure there was no conflict.

She added: "Since the announcement of the role, questions have arisen, despite legal and contractual assurances it involves no lobbying or advice on parliamentary strategy. Some of these questions have been the usual party political point scoring, but some have been genuine.

"To address that, I spoke to standards officials again yesterday to examine what further reassurances I could make to demonstrate I was working well within my responsibilities as a member."

Politicians who were criticised over second jobs

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Kezia Dugdale and George Osborne were criticised

The Edinburgh Central MSP said she also asked for guidance on whether the standards commissioner could be asked to make a ruling.

She was told any referral must contain the area where a transgression is believed to have occurred and be backed up by supportive evidence.

Ms Davidson said: "I would be unable to refer myself as there is no such transgression to report.

"Therefore, I would ask any member who believes there is any element of wrongdoing under parliamentary rules to make such a referral. I will co-operate fully."

She confirmed she was happy to give up any money until any referral to the standard's commissioner was resolved.

Ms Davidson said she would also step down from the Scottish Parliament's corporate body during the period of referral, if its members want her to.

'Hopelessly conflicted'

Labour, SNP, Green and Liberal Democrat MSPs want Ms Davidson to stand down over what they allege is a conflict of interest.

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay plans to lodge a Member's Bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban MSPs from having second jobs.

But in the face of the criticism a Tory spokesman argued the role "is well within all parliamentary and industry rules".

Meanwhile Tulchan Communications have said it was "fully aware" of the regulations surrounding Ms Davidson's appointment and it would comply with them.

"In this role [as senior advisor], it is specifically contracted that Ruth Davidson will neither be asked to, nor will, carry out any lobbying activities and that she will, in all things, act in accordance with her role as an MSP."

Ms Davidson, who gave birth to son Finn last year, resigned as Scottish Conservative leader in August.

At the time, the Edinburgh Central MSP admitted she was "hopelessly conflicted over Brexit".

Last month Ms Davidson confirmed she is unlikely to seek re-election in 2021.

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