MSP Grahame says Steel failed to deliver

Sir David Steel, chaired the meeting in the Victoria Hall, assembled parties spoke to an audience of 84.
Sir David Steel, chaired the meeting in the Victoria Hall, assembled parties spoke to an audience of 84.

LORD Steel of Aikwood has been criticised after he quit his post on an advisory panel for the Scottish Government over its Supreme Court row.

The former Borders MP and Liberal Party leader said he was “appalled” by the language used by First Minister Alex Salmond and his Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill following a series of rulings by the Supreme Court on Scottish criminal law, including a decision in June to quash Nat Fraser’s conviction for murdering his wife Arlene.

But the Scottish National Party’s Midlothian South, Tweeddale and Lauderdale MSP Christine Grahame said: “This is all bluff and bluster from Lord Steel who is a master of gesture politics, but a failure when it comes to delivery.

“Lord Steel spent years scaremongering over the Borders railway, yet it is the SNP Government that is building it.

“In fact, the only big project he brought to the Borders is the restoration of Aikwood Tower.”

In a statement earlier this week, Lord Steel said: “I resigned from this position several weeks ago, but agreed with the First Minister not to say anything until he had made new appointments.

“The reason I relinquished the role was that I was appalled by the language being used by Alex Salmond, Kenny MacAskill and an authorised spokesman towards the judiciary on the Supreme Court and the Secretary of State.

“I told Alex that I hoped this was not the way they were going to continue now that they had an overall majority, because, if so, I expected a growing number of complaints against ministers.

“Whether my letter had any effect I do not know.

“He sent me a polite and effusive letter of thanks for my services, but I am glad to observe that there has been no repetition of attacking the messengers instead of arguing the message.”

Both Scottish Government independent advisors – Lord Steel and George Reid – have stepped down from their posts to be replaced by Dame Elish Angiolini and Lord Peter Fraser.

Both Lord Steel and Mr Reid, the new Lord Lieutenant for Clackmannanshire, held their positions for three years and investigated three complaints against the First Minister, all of which were dismissed.

Mr Salmond added: “This administration introduced independent advisers into the ministerial code for the first time, and I wish to record my thanks to Lord Steel and George Reid for their service, and wish them extremely well.”