DCSIMG

Jim Devine profile: A colourful political figure with an eye for the ladies

ALTHOUGH Jim Devine only entered parliament in 2005 after the death of his friend Robin Cook, he had been established as a well-known and colourful figure in Scottish political life for many years.

• The then Labour agent Jim Devine checks spoiled papers with Robin Cook at the 2005 General Election, as the SNP's Angela Constance looks on

As the former foreign secretary's long-term agent, it was Devine who was Mr Cook's best man when he married his mistress Gaynor after his highly publicised divorce from his first wife, Margaret.

Devine had worked for Mr Cook for more than 20 years and, like the late cabinet minister, had had his own extra-marital adventures.

After he was selected as the Labour candidate to succeed Mr Cook, he gave a "clear-the-air" interview in which he confessed to having a "number of affairs" which he regretted.

In the same interview, he also admitted to having a drink-driving conviction, adding that he also bitterly regretted that episode, which saw him fined 450.

He said that he would never contemplate ever getting behind the wheel again if he had taken so much as a single glass of wine.

His friends would confirm, however, that he is fond of drink and when on form he is great company at the bar. Guinness is said to be a favourite tipple.

Giving evidence during Devine's trial, the former Labour whip Tom Watson said the ex-MP was in the Strangers' Bar in the House of Commons "quite a lot".

It was a receipt that he obtained from his local pub in London, the Prince of Wales, that played a part in his expenses downfall.

As far as his womanising was concerned, Devine, 57, who has parted from his wife Liz, has claimed that working in close proximity to women had led to him giving in to temptation.

Among the jobs that brought him into contact with the opposite sex was his work as a full-time trade union official for the Confederation of Health Service Employees.

Later he became the Scottish organiser for the health workers in Unison.

Originally he worked as a psychiatric nurse, a job that led to claims that he had worked as a "sex therapist" - a line he is reputed to have used when chatting up women.

While he was a nurse, the miner's son from Blackburn, West Lothian, developed the people skills that were to serve him well in the trade-union movement, where he was known for his championing of the health service. It was the health service strikes of the early 1980s that brought him into the public eye in Scotland.

As his profile increased, so did his political ambitions.His energy, enthusiasm, a gift for publicity and an instinctive understanding for issues made him a good person to have around during Labour election campaigns.

A spell as chairman of the Labour Party in Scotland was accompanied by two attempts at selection as a Westminster candidate before the untimely death of his boss led to him entering the Commons. Given his political experience and his friendship with Mr Cook, he seemed the obvious candidate to fight the Livingston seat.

Devine's public confession followed, and in the by-election he held on to the seat for Labour, although Mr Cook's majority of more than 13,000 took a hammering.

But even before he had completed his first term as an MP, Devine was caught up in the expenses scandal and barred from standing as a party candidate in last year's General Election.

 
 
 

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