Crofting chief Colin Kennedy refuses to resign

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The head of Scotland’s national crofting body is refusing to quit despite Nicola Sturgeon warning that ministers could intervene to hasten his removal.

Colin Kennedy insisted that he has acted in a lawful manner after suffering a vote of no confidence from fellow Crofting Commission convenors.

Crofting’s regulatory body has been engulfed in a bitter row in recent weeks and after apologising for its handling of a dispute with Western Isles crofters, it asked its convener to resign. The issue was raised at First ministers Question last week when Ms Sturgeon told MSPs that ministers do have the legal power to step in and that ministers are now looking into the row.

But Mr Kennedy insisted he won’t go.

“I have no intention of resigning,” Mr Kennedy told the BBC’s Politics Scotland yesterday.

“As matters stand I believe that the commission have acted wholly within the law at all times and until such time as we have legal advice to the contrary, I will maintain my position.”

Mr Kennedy admitted that he would have to go if ministers got involved and demanded his removal.

The commission, which oversees 20,000 crofts in Scotland, has been at the centre of an ugly dispute about the running of common grazings, including at Mangersta and Upper Coll on Lewis. Two local committees were suspended by the commission, but this was later lifted, amid claims that the national body had acted in a heavy-handed manner.

Mr Kennedy said: “At no time under my leadership has any decisions been taken without full endorsement of the board and based on legal advice.”

He added that prior to any decision being taken a “formal request” was made to the chief executive for legal advice on the issue.

Ms Sturgeon told MSPs last week she was aware that Mr Kennedy’s fellow crofting commissioners had unanimously called for him to go.

“The legislation does give Scottish ministers power to if required,” the First Minister warned.