Doctor accuses SNP of making false election claims over NHS

Paul Monaghans leaflets are causing controversy. Picture: Contributed
Paul Monaghans leaflets are causing controversy. Picture: Contributed
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A SNP politician has been accused of making false claims about the NHS in campaign literature by a leading doctor whose name and photograph have been used in the election material without her permission.

Alison Brooks is furious that she has been “misrepresented” by Paul Monaghan, the SNP politician defending the Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross seat.

Dr Brooks has sought legal advice after Mr Monaghan circulated leaflets claiming the Scottish Government is supporting her work as the chair of the Caithness Maternity and Gynaecology Group.

The claim, which is disputed by Dr Brooks, was made in Mr Monaghan’s leaflet titled “Safeguarding our NHS”, which listed a series of health initiatives in order to promote the SNP administration’s health record.

A photograph and description of Dr Brooks features prominently on the leaflet, which says: “The group’s formation is supported by the Scottish Government and is considered a major step forward in improving the care and safety of Caithness, Maternity and Neonatal Services.”

Dr Brooks said: “He used my photo because I’m the chair of maternity and gynae review group up here and he has put comments that the Scottish Government supports the formation of this group. They had absolutely nothing to do with the formation of the group...absolutely zero. They didn’t even know it was started.

“It is making suggestions that the SNP or the Scottish Government have somehow have some involvement in the health issues in the north, which they definitely haven’t.

“I was very, very upset about appearing in it. I have never spoken to the man. He has no right to put it there. It obviously suggests an allegiance with the SNP party which I would not wish. It is a misrepresentation of me.”

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Her anger was intensified by the fact that she is a Deputy Lieutenant in Caithness, an appointment made by the Queen’s local representative and which requires political neutrality.

“It is really important that I have no public allegiance to any party. So that was the cause of a great deal of embarrassment to me as well,” Dr Brooks said.

Yesterday Dr Brooks wrote to her local newspaper saying she was “extremely annoyed at serious misrepresentation”, adding that it was “misleading” to imply that she had an association with the SNP.

She added: “I took on the Chair of the Caithness Maternity and Gynaecology calling in my experiences as a mother, grandmother and local GP. I have sought legal advice on this matter.”

An spokesman for the Electoral Commission, the elections watchdog, said: “The Electoral Commission is responsible for regulating the money spent on campaigning at elections, but does not have any remit to regulate the content of campaign material. Where an individual wishes to complain about the content of election material they should raise their concerns directly with the party in question.

When presented with Dr Brooks’s complaint, Mr Monaghan apologised.

He said: “This leaflet - ‘Safeguarding our NHS’ - was produced to provide information and comment on work taking place to further develop and protect health and social care services across Caithness, Sutherland and Easter Ross.

“The reference to the recently formed Caithness Maternity and Gynaecology Group in the leaflet was intended to communicate the scale of work being undertaken. I am sorry for anything that is wrong in the leaflet and any embarrassment caused for Dr Brooks and would like to give a categoric assurance that no implied allegiance to the SNP or indeed any other political party was intended.”