Scots Tory leader steps down from key post to avert row

THE leader of the Scottish Conservatives has resigned from a key parliamentary post in an effort to head off a "conflict of interest" row.

Annabel Goldie is stepping down as convener of the powerful Justice 2 committee just before it begins scrutinising proposals for a major shake-up of legal services, including plans for an independent legal complaints body.

Ms Goldie is a partner in the Glasgow law firm Donaldson, Alexander, Russell & Haddow and a member of the Law Society of Scotland, which under the proposals will see its powers of self- regulation reduced. She is no longer a practising solicitor, but despite that has decided to quit to avoid a potential conflict of interest.

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She said: "I have intimated to the parliament my desire to step down from the Justice 2 committee.

"This is a suitable time to do so as the committee will be looking at legislation on the regulation of the legal profession. Stepping down now avoids any perception of a conflict of interests."

Under rules of parliament, committee members are expected to disclose a potential conflict of interest, but are not required to step down.

Political opponents questioned how long she could have continued such demanding twin roles.

Nicola Sturgeon MSP, the deputy leader of the SNP, said: "I have always wondered whether she could combine being leader of a party with leader of a committee."