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Ruth Davidson turns down lobbying job after backlash

The MSP, who stood down as leader of the Scottish Conservatives earlier this year, said she will not become an adviser for Tulchan Communications.

Ruth Davidson has now turned down the role with Tulchan Communications (Jane Barlow/PA)
Ruth Davidson has now turned down the role with Tulchan Communications (Jane Barlow/PA)

By Laura Paterson, PA Scotland

Former Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson will no longer take up a controversial post with a lobbying firm.

The MSP was to be appointed senior adviser to PR firm Tulchan Communications, for which she would have been paid £50,000 for 25 days’ work a year on top of her MSP salary of £63,579.

After calls from opposition politicians to choose between the post and her political role, she said she and the firm have “agreed not to proceed with the appointment”.

If I am asked to choose between Holyrood and this role, then I choose the Parliament I have dedicated the last nine years to, eight as party leader, a decision Tulchan supports Ruth Davidson MSP

Ms Davidson said: “The debate in Scotland about my taking an advisory role with Tulchan Communications has become increasingly contentious.

“I, and Tulchan, have therefore agreed not to proceed with the appointment.”

She added: “I saw this role as an opportunity to help businesses improve their offerings to staff, raise standards in the supply chain, increase diversity and embrace environmental responsibilities.

“I sat down with Scottish Parliamentary officials in advance to go through the code of conduct, in detail, in order to avoid any conflict and to ensure I would be working within the rules at all times. The role reflected this.

“The consensus view from political opponents and commentators is that working to improve businesses’ understanding of the cares and concerns of people is somehow incompatible with my role as an MSP.

“So if I am asked to choose between Holyrood and this role, then I choose the Parliament I have dedicated the last nine years to, eight as party leader, a decision Tulchan supports. ”

She said Tulchan Communications had behaved with “utmost integrity” and she is “sorry not to be working with them at this time”.

Senior partner with the firm, Andrew Grant, said: “We share Ruth’s decision not to proceed with her role with us.

“It is a great shame as we believe that she would have encouraged business to be bolder in addressing the issues of concern to their stakeholders.”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who plans to lodge a Member’s Bill in the Scottish Parliament to ban MSPs from having second jobs, said: “After a week of refusing to budge, Ruth Davidson has finally reflected on the widespread anger which has been expressed across the Parliament and among the public at large. This is to be welcomed.

“There is a clear conflict of interest in an elected representative working for a company which lobbies politicians on behalf of corporate interests.”

He claims accepting the job did “lasting damage” to the Scottish Parliament’s reputation and gives “a strong impression of politicians on the make”.

Mr Findlay added: “If it is true that the parliamentary authorities approved Davidson’s job with a lobbying firm, then it just demonstrates that the rules are not fit for purpose.”

SNP MSP Gordon MacDonald said: “If she is to claw back any respect at all, Ruth Davidson must publish all material and advice she has received regarding this role.”

PA

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