The Herald scooped a highly unusual exclusive. They managed to get a statement from Colin Kennedy, Convener of the Crofting Commission.
Normally Colin Kennedy avoids giving statements on behalf of the Crofting Commission allowing others to do that for him. Today he gave The Herald a personal statement following calls by his fellow commissioners yesterday for him to resign after he walked out of the board meeting at Brora Golf Club.
He told The Herald:-
I have not resigned. My health has suffered in the recent weeks having been put under ridiculous pressure by the Scottish Government minister responsible, and his cohorts. They want me to sweep matters of crofting law under the carpet, because they are inconvenient politically. I refused to do that.
Has Mr Kennedy considered the health of those who have suffered from unfairly being removed from office as grazings committee members?
Mr Kennedy, in my view, seriously misinterpreted the law. He appears to have gone against advice provided to him by officials. I have asked the Crofting Commission on a number of occasions to justify the actions taken by them with reference to statutory provisions and/or case law. They have failed to do so. The best they can do is to say that a decision taken by them is a final one and cannot be revisited by them. That is to say they can, in effect, make illegal decisions and then don’t need to justify them or revisit them.
Numerous posts on this blog give reasoned legal argument as to why Mr Kennedy got it wrong. He has not, even through the pages of The Herald, sought to put forward a reasoned contrary view.
The Scottish Government has clearly taken their own legal advice on the matter and they disagree with Mr Kennedy’s view. They are his superiors and he should be accepting their direction.
Section 1(3) of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 states:-
The Commission shall discharge their functions in accordance with such directions of a general or specific character as may from time to time be given to them in writing by the Scottish Ministers.
Directions have been given to Mr Kennedy. He can’t sweep Section 1(3) under the carpet and refuse to do as directed. By doing so he is flouting crofting law and flouting the will of Parliament.
Does that in itself make Mr Kennedy “unable or unfit to exercise the functions of a member” or “unsuitable to continue as a member”? [Paragraph 9(1)(e) of Schedule 1 of the 1993 Act]
Image Credit: Colin Kennedy leaving the meeting at Brora Golf Club © BBC Alba