SNP councillor steps down after charges relating to misconduct over election expenses
THE Highlands’ youngest councillor has been charged over alleged misconduct over election expenses.
• Alex MacLeod is the Highlands’ youngest councillor at just 20 years old, having been elected as a 19-year-old
• Northern Constabulary confirmed that a 20-year-old man had been reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with alleged offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and related offences
• Cllr MacLeod has stepped down as an SNP Party member but remains a councillor
Alex MacLeod, 20, has stepped down as an SNP Party member, although he remains a councillor.
Mr MacLeod, who worked for First Minister Alex Salmond on leaving school, was only 19 when he won his Landward Caithness seat in May’s Highland Council elections.
He was Gaelic spokesman for the SNP-led administration, but has resigned from the controlling group on the local authority while there are legal proceedings against him.
A Northern Constabulary spokesman confirmed: “A 20-year-old man has been reported to the Procurator Fiscal in connection with alleged offences under the Representation of the People Act 1983 and related offences.”
A conviction of such offences can carry a maximum six-month prison term.
An an SNP spokesperson said: “Councillor Macleod has stepped down from the SNP until this legal process has concluded.
“It would be inappropriate to comment further on what is an ongoing investigation.”
A police probe was launched two months ago when a complaint was made to the force by an unnamed individual about his conduct during the election campaign.
It is understood part of the investigation centred on accommodation expenses.
He was born and raised in Tain, Ross-shire, and was taught through Gaelic at Tain Royal Academy. He left school early and worked for 10 months for First Minister Alex Salmond.
Mr MacLeod subsequently studied Law at Edinburgh University and was also very active in the Young Scots for Independence organisation, rising to the position of National Secretary.
In 2010 he was appointed a Parliamentary Assistant to the SNP MSP Rob Gibson and and was his Campaign Manager in the 2011 election when Gibson captured the Caithness, Sutherland and Ross seat from the Lib-Dems.
He has enjoyed a high profile on the authority since his election victory, declaring the council would “not know what hit it” once he started work.
The councillor was a vocal supporter for the lifting of the ban on same-sex marriage saying: “I look forward to making full use of this new law – maybe a wee bit later in life.”
Spending limits are imposed on election candidates so that wealthy individuals cannot lavish huge amounts of cash on winning by splashing out on heavy advertising or sponsorship.
A councillor can be disqualified it they have been found to have submitted a misleading record of expenses.
The limit for Mr MacLeod’s ward was £1226.04 but the expenses shows he spent £88.46 less than the maximum permitted.
Mr MacLeod is also a board member of Eden Court Theatre and Caithness Citizen’s Advice Bureau, and represents the Highland Council on the Dounreay Stakeholder’s Group.
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