A SCOTTISH Government cabinet secretary has escaped punishment after she was found to have breached Holyrood rules for failing to declare shares in a publishing company.
A committee of her fellow MSPs today ruled that the £50 worth of shares Roseanna Cunningham, a former advocate and justice minister, held in Left Review Scotland was unlikely to “influence” her conduct in Parliament.
Holyrood’s watchdog, the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, had investigated the case and found the cabinet secretary had breached the Interests of the Members of the Scottish Parliament Act, as well as MSPs code of conduct.
MSPs on Holyrood’s Standards Committee today backed the findings of the report.
But Committee convenor Stewart Stevenson said: “It (the committee) does not consider that the breach in question justifies any sanctions being imposed on Roseanna Cunningham.”
A breach of the act can be a criminal offence punishable by a fine of up to £5000.
Mr Stevenson said it was “clearly an oversight” and Ms Cunningham had no intention of avoiding registering her shares.
It understood Ms Cunningham has held the shares since 2000, when she helped create the company.
“The committee questions whether shares of such a value, or potential value, could reasonably be considered to influence a members actions.”
Ms Cunningham “immediately registered” the shares when she became aware of the oversight, then took steps to dispose of them, he added.
“The committee wishes to make clear that it takes all breaches of the act and the code seriously,” Mr Stevenson added.
“It is the responsibility of every member to understand and meet these requirements and the committee emphasis this to Roseanna Cunningham and all other members of Parliament.”
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