Tory MSP Annie Wells Suspended From Holyrood
8 November 2018, 19:08 | Updated: 8 November 2018, 19:10
Scottish Conservative MSP Annie Wells has been suspended from Holyrood.
MSPs voted by 84 to 27 for her to be excluded from the Parliament for five days.
Ms Wells was deemed to have breached the Code of Conduct for MSPs by commenting on a report on prisoner voting ahead of its publication.
It means she will be excluded from Holyrood committee meetings and chamber debates for the week beginning Monday November 12.
In moving the motion, SNP MSP Bill Kidd said: "The Parliament has made it clear previously that when a committee deems information to be confidential, notably in relation to a committee report, it should remain confidential until any agreed publication date.
"When an MSP discloses the details of an unpublished committee report, particularly to record dissent, it seriously undermines the impact of the report and is considered deeply disrespectful to fellow committee members and to everyone involved in their enquiry".
Scottish Conservative MSP Maurice Golden defended Ms Wells and said that although his party accepted she had breached the technical charge, he argued that the sanction handed down was disproportionate to the offence.
He said: "The process we are involved in is not helping one single person in Scotland, the people we are all here to represent.
"The complaint itself is regrettable and utterly unhelpful, apart from scoring political points.
"Annie Wells did not seek or gain anything from the remarks she made."
An SNP spokesman responded by saying: "These are matters for the Parliament to determine and all MSPs are bound by the same rules.
"The independent Commissioner for Standards concluded that Annie Wells had breached the Code of Conduct for MSPs and the Standards Committee, which includes two Conservative members, unanimously agreed with the commissioner's findings and determined that the breaches justified the imposition of sanctions on Annie Wells."
Ahead of the vote, Ms Wells said: "Numerous media outlets contacted our office seeking comment on a story on the front page of a national newspaper that morning on prisoner voting.
"So, I responded to that, as every MSP would, by issuing a statement to them reiterating my opposition to allowing prisoners voting rights.
"My response did not contain details of the report that weren't already known, nor was I responsible for the original leak of the document to the paper, and we still don't know who was."