Crofting Commissioner Resigns over situation the Scottish Government and Crofting Commission need to sort out

William Swann - Crofting Commissioner Resigns from Crofting Commission

William Swann

More catch up news on ‘The Common Clearances‘ since I returned from holiday. This time the news from last week that William Swann had resigned, the previous week, as a Commissioner at the Crofting Commission.

This was covered in the media last week and this week as follows:-

Crofting Commission Press Release – 9th June 2016

The Crofting Commission today confirmed that William Swann decided to resign from the position of Commissioner on Thursday 2, June.

William Swann, from the Isle of Skye, was appointed as Commissioner by Scottish Ministers in January 2012 and has provided significant contribution to the Commission during his time and was particularly helpful as the chair of the Audit and Finance Committee.

Crofting Commission Chief Executive, Catriona Maclean, commented:

William has provided invaluable knowledge, expertise and guidance to the Commission.  The Commission would like to thank William for all of his hard work and we wish him luck with his future ventures.

The Commission remain quorate and I would like to assure all crofters that it is business as usual with a continued focus on securing the future of crofting.

The Skye Times – 10 June 2016

In recent months there has been growing discontent at grass roots level over the decisions by the Commission to remove from office two grazing committees at Upper Coll and Mangersta in Lewis after investigating their financial arrangements.

However, today Mr Swann said he had nothing to add to the resignation announcement made by the Chief Executive.

However, he did say:

The situation is one very much between the Scottish Government and Crofting Commission and something they need to sort out. I hope that things do calm down.

BBC News coverage – 13 June 2016

William Swann quit as a member of the Crofting Commission last week.

BBC Alba has since learned that he had told crofters he would resign if he felt the commission was not dealing with their case in a fair manner.

The commission has been in dispute with the crofters in Mangersta and Upper Coll about how they manage their common grazings committees.

The commission dismissed both committees, whose members are crofters, earlier this year and appointed officials to run the grazings, which are shared areas of land for raising livestock…

Catriona MacLean, of the Crofting Commission… said she could not comment on Mr Swann’s resignation, but said the commission was working effectively and within the law.

The Herald – 14 June 2016

William Swann, who was one of three commission members appointed by the Scottish Government, stood down last week without explanation.

Mr Swann, from Skye was chair of the Audit and Finance Committee. There were reports that he had told crofters on Lewis he would resign if he felt the commission was not dealing with their case in a fair manner.

But spokeswoman said last night:-

The Crofting Commission can confirm that there is no connection between what was reportedly said by William Swann at a meeting with Mangersta shareholders and his decision to resign. William’s reasons for resignation are a private matter for him and we must respect that.

View from the Crofting Law Blog

The most important thing to glean from these various reports is what Mr Swann said himself, namely:-

The situation is one very much between the Scottish Government and Crofting Commission and something they need to sort out. I hope that things do calm down.

It would therefore appear that he resigned due to an issue at the Crofting Commission that he feels needs sorting out between them and the Scottish Government. There have been calls for some time for the Scottish Government to step in and investigate what is going on at the Crofting Commission. Perhaps William Swann’s resignation will be a catalyst to them now actually doing just that.

It should be noted that William Swann chaired the meeting involving shareholders of the Mangersta Common Grazings at which there was reportedly ‘a menacing presence‘.

Brian Inkster

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