Jenny Gilruth criticises Douglas Ross for trying to 'weaponise' her intervention in Fife rail upgrade

The SNP minister said the row had not been a ‘very nice experience’

Jenny Gilruth has accused the Scottish Tories of attempting to “weaponise” her intervention in a rail upgrade when she was transport minister.

In an exclusive interview, she said the row earlier this year had not been a “very nice experience”, but that she remained “very happy” that her actions were “appropriate”.

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The Scotsman reported in November last year that the Mid Fife and Glenrothes MSP had ordered a delay to long-planned rail works which would have halted all Fife to Edinburgh trains between Christmas and New Year.

Humza Yousaf arrives at Holyrood with Jenny Gilruth on Tuesday January 10, 2023.Humza Yousaf arrives at Holyrood with Jenny Gilruth on Tuesday January 10, 2023.
Humza Yousaf arrives at Holyrood with Jenny Gilruth on Tuesday January 10, 2023.

In May, Conservative leader Douglas Ross raised the issue at first minister's questions (FMQs), demanding an investigation into whether Ms Gilruth broke the ministerial code by intervening inappropriately to push back the disruptive upgrade in her constituency for political reasons.

Mr Ross said it looked like a "clear-cut sackable offence", alleging the decision had cost taxpayers £1 million to rearrange the work.

Ms Gilruth has now said that she consulted Transport Scotland officials about whether she could make the decision, because it impacted her constituency, and was given the go-ahead.

She told Scotland on Sunday: “I’m very happy that my actions were appropriate. I think it was weaponised by the leader of the opposition during FMQs but I’m very happy with the action I took, which was basically for the benefit of communities.

"Ultimately, if you are going to take a railway into public ownership, why on Earth would you not consult with them about railway works?

"Which was the question I asked at the time. So I’m very happy with all the decisions I took.”

First Minister Humza Yousaf concluded in June that Ms Gilruth, who is now the education secretary, did not break the ministerial code.

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He said he was "confident" there was no breach of the rules, and that Ms Gilruth was "acting entirely legitimately" in a bid to minimise disruption to the public.

"It’s not a very nice experience to live through but I think we move on and I’m very happy with the action I took, and obviously the FM has decided there was no case to answer,” she said.

However, Mr Ross said the first minister’s investigation had been a “total whitewash” and continued to claim Ms Gilruth’s decision had been inappropriate.

He said: “Jenny Gilruth’s spin cannot mask the fact that her actions were clear breach of the ministerial code. Her decision to intervene was anything but appropriate.

"Not only should she not have been involved in the first place, she also ignored advice from Network Rail and Transport Scotland.

"In typical SNP fashion, she has used rhetoric to try and shy away from the fact her party do not like being scrutinised.

"It is little wonder Jenny Gilruth is happy to move on. The investigation into her actions by Humza Yousaf was a total whitewash.

"He showed he was completely incapable of taking a tough decision against one of his Cabinet colleagues when they were clearly in the wrong."



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