Mike Russell criticised for failing to explain funding figures fiasco

Michael Russell. Picture: TSPL
Michael Russell. Picture: TSPL
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LABOUR MSP Hugh Henry has launched a fresh attack on education secretary Michael Russell for failing to explain accusations that he misled parliament by saying that funding to Scotland’s colleges was increasing.

Alex Salmond was forced to apologise to MSPs hours after he had told them four times that he was increasing funding for Scotland’s college sector this year, in what he said was “about as exact an answer as anybody has given to any parliament”. Figures in the name of education secretary Mr Russell had contradicted Mr Salmond’s claims, admitting that revenue funding for colleges was actually falling this year.

The education secretary promised to write to the Presiding Officer to apologise after telling Labour MSP Hamzala Malik in June that there was “no reduction” in college funding.

Labour’s education spokesman Mr Henry today criticised Mr Russell for not appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Politics to explain the row over college cuts. The Scottish Government said Mr Russell was unavailable.

Mr Henry said: “It’s unfortunate that the cabinet secretary hasn’t come on the programme as he twice made untruthful claims to parliament.

“We need to know why the wrong figures were given to the Scottish Parliament. Mike Russell knowingly gave the wrong figures twice.

“I’ve written to the First Minister under freedom of information asking for him to bring to parliament all the briefings he had on this.”

The Scottish Government said that it was “committed to the role of Scotland’s colleges.