The boss of one of Scotland’s leading public affairs firms has been accused of “utterly reprehensible” behaviour including bullying and intimidating opponents.
• MP says he received text message containing sectarian abuse.
• Mark Cummings “known for bullying and becoming aggressive, particularly towards women”.
Mark Cummings, of city-based Invicta PA, who are currently handling the contentious Craighouse development, had the claims made against him by Labour MP Thomas Docherty, using parliamentary privilege in a speech to the Commons last Friday February 1.
The Fife MP claimed to receive a text message containing sectarian abuse after he opposed a planned development by one of Cummings’ clients.
He said: “I am not alone in receiving intimidatory behaviour from Mr Cummings, he is well-known for bullying and becoming aggressive, particularly towards women opponents of schemes.”
Highlighting further examples of “unacceptable” practises used by Mr Cummings, the MP also claimed the lobbyist would get an employee to pose as a journalist to sound out politicians about planning applications.
He also suggested that Mr Cummings placed candidates to stand for election to community councils which then have to be consulted on planning issues.
Sectarian song claims
In relation to the dispute that led to the text message, Mr Docherty, a former lobbyist, who was once a colleague of Mr Cummings, said that he had opposed a development in Dunfermline along with local residents.
Soon after he claims to have received a text which was was “incredibly offensive” and contained the words of a sectarian song associated with supporters of Rangers Football Club.
He added: “What was quite clear to me and to others in the community was the only reason why I had received this offensive and intimidatory text message was because I was currently opposing a planning application which he was pressing for.”
Mr Docherty launched the outspoken attack during at a debate of the Commercial Lobbyists (Registration and Code of Conduct) Bill.
Mr Cummings “strongly denies” the claims and has written to The Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow to complain about the speech and has demanded a full public apology from Mr Docherty.
He has likewise complained to Labour leader Ed Miliband and Scottish Labour leader, Johann Lamont about the way parliamentary privilege was used “to make unfounded, false and defamatory allegations” about the way his firm conducts its business.
He said: “I am absolutely appalled at the conduct of Mr Docherty. To attack me personally and my company in this way without warning and under the cloak of parliamentary privilege is a serious abuse of his power as an MP.
“I will not hesitate to take legal action against him if he repeats these allegations outside of the Commons and I’ve written to Mr Speaker and the leaders of the Labour Party in the UK and Scotland asking for disciplinary action to be taken against Mr Docherty.
“I will not allow these unfounded allegations to go unchallenged as they could pose a serious threat to my business.
“It is ironic that Mr Docherty should choose to attack me and my company as I am the only leading member of the public affairs profession in Scotland that has spoken publicly in support of establishing a proper register of those who lobby parliament, MPs and MSPs.”