Tory in MEP row appeals to Ruth Davidson to intervene

A former Conservative candidate who has threatened legal action against the party has appealed to Ruth Davidson to end the dispute.

Belinda Don has appealed for Ruth Davidson to intervene. Picture; John Devlin
Belinda Don has appealed for Ruth Davidson to intervene. Picture; John Devlin

Belinda Don has accused the Scottish Conservatives of trying to overturn an election after it was revealed that she will not be replacing the departing MEP Ian Duncan when he assumes his new role as Scottish Office minister in the House of Lords.

As a party list candidate she was next in line to inherit the seat, however, Ruth Davidson wants Iain McGil to take the seat, despite being fifth on the list.

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Critics have claimed that the decision was a deliberate snub by the party’s leader, Ruth Davidson, however, Belinda Don has revealed that she has been appealing to the party to talk to Ruth Davidson.

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The Tories have said that Mrs Don was no longer on their “approved candidates” list.

Belinda Don explained that the legal document she served to the Scottish Conservatives was a draft writ as current MEP Ian Duncan is still currently in place. However, she said there were “unequivocal legal arguments” on her side and that she was ‘deeply saddened that the leadership of the Conservative Party in Scotland seems to think that it is somehow acceptable to overturn the results of an election”.

She said: “This is not just an internal party issue, but one that goes to the very heart of our democracy - they are trying to overturn an election result. In the 2014 European elections my name was on the ballot paper as number two on the list and 231,000 Scottish Conservatives voted for that list in that order.

“Having not received any reassurances that the list order will be respected in these new circumstances, I have prepared a draft writ to demonstrate the unequivocal legal arguments that apply.

“Ms Davidson is now in receipt of this draft writ, and I trust she will now see that the law is clear: the Conservative party does not have any right to remove people from the MEP list on a whim.”.

The Conservatives have said that to be elected for the party, a candidate must be not only on the relevant list, but on the party’s own approved list of candidates. It is understood that Belinda Don has been removed from said list.

A spokesman said: “To become the European Parliament candidate for a region you must be on the approved Scottish Conservative candidates list.”

However, Mrs Don contended that she had “remained totally loyal” to the party since the list selection in 2013.

She said: “I have no wish to prolong this regrettable public dispute and remain hopeful that once she is in receipt of clear legal advice, Ms Davidson will see her present course of action is contrary to the law.

“I also press her to take note of natural justice and democracy: no political party should ever seek to ignore the will of their members or the electorate as expressed at both their internal and external elections.”