Tory MSP claims he was ‘threatened’ by SNP minister during row in Holyrood

Stephen Kerr said he was told he was going to ‘fall from a very high place’
Stephen Kerr. Picture: Michael Gillen/JPI MediaStephen Kerr. Picture: Michael Gillen/JPI Media
Stephen Kerr. Picture: Michael Gillen/JPI Media

A Tory MSP has claimed he was “threatened” by a senior SNP minister after a row broke out in Holyrood.

Stephen Kerr said Shona Robison, the deputy first minister, said he was “going to fall from a very high place”.

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He raised a point of order about the incident in the Scottish Parliament after the pair rowed during a break in proceedings.

Ms Robison later said her remarks were meant “metaphorically and politically, not literally”, and she was fed up of Mr Kerr’s “constant barracking of mainly female colleagues”.

It came after Green MSP Maggie Chapman raised concerns about male politicians repeatedly heckling female ministers in the Holyrood chamber.

She specifically named Mr Kerr, accusing him of interrupting public health minister Jenni Minto in an attempt to “knock her off her feet”.

During a break in proceedings, exchanges could then be heard between Mr Kerr and members of the SNP frontbench, including Ms Robison.

Mr Kerr could be heard saying “nonsense” and “absolute nonsense”, while Ms Robison made reference to a “fall from a very high place”.

Raising a point of order, Mr Kerr said: “I’m very sorry to have to do this, presiding officer, but in the exchanges across this gangway here before the Cabinet Secretaries left this row, I perceive that I was threatened. The exact words used were I am going to fall from a very high place. That’s attested by my colleagues that that is what was said.

"Can I ask you please for some guidance on whether or not it is at all appropriate for such threats to be made in this chamber between members of this parliament.”

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Alison Johnstone, Holyrood’s presiding officer, said MSPs “should not be involved in conversations across the aisles”, particularly those which are “discourteous or disrespectful”. She added: “We are elected representatives of the Scottish people and it is extremely important that we conduct ourselves in a manner that reflects that.”

Mr Kerr later called for an apology from Ms Robison, who he said had “disgraced her office”.

He said: “While I am used to the normal cut and thrust of debate, this is beyond what is acceptable, and the example she has set shows contempt for anyone who disagrees with her or would seek to question her government. I think an apology would be in order to avoid taking this any further.”

Speaking in Holyrood, Ms Robison said: “The constant barracking of mainly female colleagues by Mr Kerr in this chamber is intolerable and people are frankly fed up with it. After another episode of barracking of another female colleague earlier, right after a point of order Maggie Chapman had made about Mr Kerr’s same behaviour, I did say to Mr Kerr that his behaviour and arrogance would lead to him having a very high fall at some point.

"Now obviously, this was meant metaphorically and politically, not literally, but for the avoidance of doubt let me be very clear to Mr Kerr about that point.”

Ms Robison said Mr Kerr was attempting to deflect from “the numerous and growing complaints about his conduct in this place”, adding: “Now, we all have a duty to treat each other with courtesy and respect and reflect upon our own behaviour, and I will obviously do that, but I do hope that Mr Kerr’s conduct will be tackled as it cannot be allowed to continue as it is at present.”



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