Scotland and the Lobbyists
Gordon Beattie left the Evening Times at the age of 26 to set up a news agency. Now he runs Scotland’s largest public relations company.
In its early days the stories the young Lanarkshire news agency would flog to news desks were ‘crap’, according to one tabloid editor of the Eighties. Injuries in traffic accidents jostled alongside weak business stories, but editors admired the sheer work rate.
Beattie Media got into PR. Slowly, editors became aware that the local stories were promoting the same Lanarkshire businesses which happened to be Beattie Media’s PR clients. The clients were paying Gordon Beattie, as were the newspapers who ran the stories. Editors stopped running the copy. It was a neat trick that reveals Beattie’s ability to see a novel business opportunity. ‘He’s a very dynamic guy, into all that American business philosophy,’ says one former employee. ‘PR is all about learning things about people they’d prefer you didn’t know. Gordon’s a great exponent of trading stories,’ says one of the many ex-journalists who have passed through Beattie Media’s doors
The company’s greatest fillip was to come up with the Tory policy of making public agencies outsource services. All the local enterprise companies that make up the Scottish Enterprise network, had lucrative contracts for private firms.
Beattie Media first won the contract for the Lanarkshire Development Agency. Now it has contracts with the Glasgow Development Agency; Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Limited; and Ayrshire Enterprise. It also does much of the PR for Scottish Enterprise, including the SE agencies Scotland the Brand and the Skills portfolio.
This domination of the enterprise sector has already led to concerns that Beattie Media are monopolising the field. The focus is now turning to the question of how Gordon Beattie was so successful in winning big ticket contracts. Other Scottish PR firms were more than willing to give their own explanations.
Beattie Media put a PR team into West of Scotland Water before the contract was advertised for tender. PR rivals say Beattie Media were in place for more than three months, the maximum limit for a public body to retain paid advisers without a competitive tendering process.
A source in West of Scotland Water told The Observer that Beattie Media was originally in the running against Shandwick PR, but ‘it didn’t matter what Shandwick did, Beattie were going to get it’. It caused anger in the company that Gordon Beattie approached senior members of the board offering his services when the in-house team was still operating.
The Observer has been told that ‘Beattie undermined the existing staff’. Scotland is a small place, and who you know counts for a lot. By employing Andrew Livingstone, the son of the chief executive of Lanarkshire Development Agency, Ian Livingstone(5), and Debbie Allison, the daughter of Beattie Media client, Clydeport’s chief executive, Tom Allison (6), the firm can’t have done itself any harm. (The Observer)
March 15 1996: Lanarkshire Development Agency – to put its PR out to tender
The Lanarkshire Development Agency is reviewing its annual £100K PR account with Beattie Media. The account has been with the agency since the regeneration body was established in 1991.
The review is a statutory requirement rather than a reflection on Beattie’s performance, but matters may be complicated for Beattie as it takes place just as LDA’s chief executive Archie Bethel is leaving to join local engineering company Motherwell Bridge. He is being replaced by LDA finance director Iain Carmichael.
‘Under Scottish Enterprise rules the contract must be put out to tender,’ said Beattie Media MD Gordon Beattie. ‘The decision will be taken on the basis of cost and quality. As far as we’re concerned, if we retain the account it will be down to the quality of the proposal and the team we put in.’ The deadline for the submission of tenders was 8 March. Media relations activity – championing opportunities in and improvements to Lanarkshire – will make up the bulk of the work on the account.
Shandwick Scotland is among those to pitch.Barkers Scotland was also approached but declined because of a conflict of interest with existing client the Glasgow Development Agency. (PR Week)
9 Jan 1997: Quango Blows £100K to Engage a Media Company
A quango was last night accused of squandering almost £100K of public money by hiring a public relations firm for the run-up to the General Election. Scottish Enterprise, set up to attract inward investment, already has a 12-strong press and publicity office. The quango is desperate to reclaim power lost to a network of smaller Local Enterprise Companies (LECs) and has engaged the PR firm at £10K monthly in a bid to win Labour backing. The move means another lucrative contract for Lanarkshire-based Beattie Media which has already won deals worth more than £150K from LECs in Lanarkshire and Lothian. …(High Beam)
Gordon Beattie Reid, Dewar and Blair
Public Affairs Europe – Beattie Media and the The Jack McConnell Affair
In April 1998 Gordon Beattie launched Public Affairs Europe, a joint venture with commercial lawyers Maclay, Murray and Spens. Jack McConnell (who later became Scottish First Minister), the former general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party was recruited and employed as a director (for around 9 months) in which time he won no clients and brought in no fees.
McConnell’s links with Beattie Media were later to become central to the Scottish Parliament Standards Committee’s investigation of the infamous Lobbygate affair. He had been recruited by Beattie Media because of his political connections and prospects: Beattie said “We appointed Jack McConnell to head up our public affairs consultancy, in the certain knowledge that Jack would get a safe seat from the Labour Party, and in the hope and expectation that he would also get a cabinet position within the new administration. So we always knew that Jack was going to leave us.”
(The Observer transcript 1999: 2). Our concern centred on the probity of such an overtly political appointment given the recent history of sleaze at Westminster which had brought down the Tory government.
Damian Killeen, Director of the Poverty Alliance in Glasgow, wrote to The Herald expressing his fears “The growth in the number of lobbying companies in Scotland, in advance of the Scottish Parliament, is happening with relatively little critical comment. Some of these companies are staffed by people who recently or currently have occupied prominent political positions. There is little doubt that their access to senior politicians is an important part of these companies’ sales pitch. Government in Scotland has, so far, done little to disassociate itself from these developments. What signals does this send out to those who are looking to the new Parliament to provide a level of accessibility and inclusiveness? (Killeen 1998: 16) (powerbase info Beattie Media)
Apr 10, 1998: McConnell quits Scottish Labour party for agency post with Beattie Media
Jack McConnell, general secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland for the past five years, has resigned from his post to head up a new Edinburgh-based government relations consultancy, which will be known as Public Affairs Europe. It is a joint-venture between leading Scottish PR agency Beattie Media and commercial lawyers firm Maclay Murray and Spens. Beattie handles some public affairs, but its main work is in public relations. Public Affairs Europe’s specific aim is to provide legal and constitutional advice alongside traditional government relations counsel, in the run-up to the establishment of the new Scottish Parliament.
McConnell said: ’I look forward to helping the public and private sectors have greater involvement in the democratic process in Edinburgh, Westminster and Brussels. The Public Affairs Europe team will be at the cutting edge of the quality, innovation, ethical standards and success which must be central to the new Scotland’.
McConnell, who will be chief executive, will form part of a six-strong team at Public Affairs Europe, with George McKechnie, head of public affairs at Beattie Media taking the role of chairman of the new agency, Gordon Beattie, managing director of Beattie Media and Magnus Swanson, Bruce Patrick and Alec Barr, all partners at Maclay Murray Spens. (prweek)
6 October 1999: Scottish Parliament hit by lobbying scandal
Scottish politics have been convulsed by a row over a lobbying company’s access to ministers in the newly devolved parliament. The Observer newspaper, whose investigation exposed the scandal, has likened it to the row that blew up around Labour Party aide Derek Draper some months ago, and redolent of the “sleaze” allegations that dogged the previous Tory administration, which contributed to their 1997 electoral collapse.
Scotland’s “lobbygate” has undermined the democratic illusions built up around the new parliament and exposed the sordid reality of the Blair Labour government’s Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme. (3)
On August 31, in the Balmoral Hotel in Edinburgh, Ben Laurence from the Observer newspaper posed as a representative of principally American investors during discussions with Kevin Reid (4) and Alex Barr of the public relations firm Beattie Media. Reid is the 24-year-old son of John Reid, Scotland’s Secretary of State.
The Observer’s investigation followed rumours that lobbying companies were increasingly targeting the Scottish executive, touting for business. Laurence told the pair that his clients were interested in “PFI stuff over here.” PFI is a means through which private capital is invested in services, such as education and healthcare. Begun by the Conservatives but dramatically expanded by Blair’s Labour government, it has been promoted as the saviour of public services.
In reality it represents privatisation via the back door. Under the initiative, improvements, refurbishment, or the new construction of hospitals, roads, prisons, schools, sewage and water treatment plants can be undertaken only if they can show a long-term profit to venture capitalists. Those unable to do so are ditched, or completely distorted.
The Observer’s bogus businessman was looking at Scotland, Laurence continued, because it has been a major area of PFI and “calculations suggest the sort of returns for PFI projects in Scotland are giving their investors above what they are south of the border [in England].” His clients were aware that the initiative was “politically sensitive” and required a consultancy firm that would help them navigate Scottish politics and facilitate discussions with those political leaders whose approval would be essential for any project.
Invited to present their “USP” (unique selling point) for this role, Barr noted Reid’s parentage and boasted of his company’s relationship with Jack McConnell, ex-general secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland and current Scottish government finance minister. Although no longer officially on their payroll, McConnell was recently head of Beattie’s public affairs consultancy and his personal assistant was formerly employed by Beattie.
Reid was previously head of the Labour Party’s Scottish monitoring and research department. Several other leading politicians and their offspring have close relations with Beattie. Their corporate clients have included West of Scotland Water, Scottish Enterprise and local investment agencies.
Referring to the latter, the Beattie men explained that “we work for them all full-time, so we’ve got our finger on the pulse of what’s happening in business and in construction. Major capital projects don’t tend to happen especially within these areas without us knowing about it.” They made clear that the entire Scottish government is accessible to any company with money to invest: “First of all, it’s been set up so there shouldn’t be a problem with meeting ministers, executive members.”
Reid boasted of his contacts: “I worked for Jack [McConnell] and for Wendy [Alexander—minister for communities] and for Henry [McCleish—Enterprise Minister] and for Donald [Dewar—First Minister] on a one-to-one basis. I worked with the Labour Party media monitoring in the press team and I briefed them every night.”
Reid grinned, then played his ace: “I know the Secretary of State very, very well, because he’s my father.” The father is John Reid, Secretary of State for Scotland, one of the Prime Minister, Tony Blair’s closest allies and the man widely tipped to succeed George Robertson as Defence Secretary. The son is 24-year-old Kevin Reid, a former Labour Party helper who is now a key player in a “New Labour” lobbying firm peddling claims of influence and access to Ministers.
Whilst Reid said that he couldn’t promise access to people, he went on to explain how informal contacts could be arranged. He cited a meeting with Sports Minister Sam Galbraith in the Rangers football club directors’ box over a youth centre contract, and claimed to have helped win approval for a number of recent contracts involving freight transport from Prestwick and a £60 million tourist development around Loch Lomond.
Whilst such scandals are by no means new, this latest one has thrown the Labour Party in Scotland into crisis. It broke just after its near defeat in the Hamilton by-election. John Reid and Donald Dewar reportedly came close to blows at the Labour Party conference over their differing responses to the scandal. Dewar had called for a full enquiry, while Reid dismissed the revelations as a storm in a teacup. The press has speculated that the spat involves broader rivalries between the two men.
Prime Minister Tony Blair has dispatched a team north to investigate the whole business and Beattie Media has closed down their public affairs wing. The Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee is meeting to discuss the case. The body had originally intended to hold the hearing in camera, but were forced to make them public after the Scotsman newspaper took the Parliament to court for breaching its promise for “transparency” and “open” government.
None of the outrage around the scandal is motivated by opposition to PFI. Despite the social implications of even greater sectors of Britain’s public services being geared towards profit, the initiative has never been mentioned outside the initial Observer article. Alarm has focussed on the implications of the new parliament being seen as the tool of an extremely narrow clique of contract-swinging politicians. This contradicts the image of Scottish devolution as the “rebirth of democracy”.
Writing in the Scotsman, editor Alan Ruddock complained, “The objective has always been to establish that openness and transparency are the first principles of Scottish democracy. It is not enough for MSPs to assert that on this occasion they will allow their affairs to be scrutinised. The public’s right to know should not be in the gift of politicians.”
Leading Scottish National Party member George Kerevan commented, “The incestuous links between politicians, lobbyists—and journalists—means phone calls are returned. Cases are put to the right people. After all, in backward Scotland, trading influence is currency. Some day a politician might need a job or pertinent information or a message passed to the right ear.”
The latest row is not an aberration, however. Labour’s programme of devolved government is aimed at enabling the greater exploitation of Britain’s regions and their workforces by the transnational corporations and global money markets. The Scottish parliament was meant to facilitate these relations by establishing closer, direct links between local politicians and big business. Reid and Barr were simply acting on that mandate. (World Socialist Web Site)
26 September 1999: More about Beattie media and its role in the Lobbygate scandal
Beattie Media has an alliance with London-based lobbyists APCO (1) Its public affairs wing was set up last year. Beattie has given jobs to the offspring of no fewer than three MPs – two of them, including Reid, Cabinet Ministers. Malcolm Robertson, son of the outgoing Defence Secretary George Robertson, is now working as a lobbyist for the Scottish Airports Authority.(2)
The third is Christina Marshall, daughter of David Marshall MP, who chairs the Scottish affairs select committee at Westminster. She is now personal assistant to Jack McConnell, Finance Minister in the Scottish executive and former general-secretary of the Scottish Labour Party. He is central to Beattie’s lobbying sales pitch, having headed its public affairs wing before this year’s elections to the new Scottish Parliament.
At the Balmoral meeting, Reid said that, in politics ‘relationships’ mattered. And he reeled off a list of the people he had got to know while working in the Labour Party and what positions they now held in the new administration in Edinburgh.
‘Anthony James’ said his ‘American clients’ wanted reassurance before they would invest and needed face-to-face meetings with Ministers. They also needed information about public projects using private finance before they were announced. In response, Barr indicated that Beattie’s status as Scotland’s largest public relations business gave it an excellent information network. Not much happened in business north of the border without the firm knowing about it.
Barr said McConnell’s appointment to head the public affairs wing had been made ‘in the certain knowledge that Jack would get a safe seat from the Labour Party, and in the hope and expectation that he would also get a Cabinet position within the new administration’. During McConnell’s time, the firm, acting for the Scottish Premier League last October, invited Sports Minister Sam Galbraith to a Rangers European Champions League game so that he could meet league chief executive Roger Mitchell. The league wanted to establish youth soccer academies, but needed government financial help. Rangers won (against Beitar Jerusalem). So did the Scottish Premier League: since the election, Labour has pledged £10 million to develop the academies, which Barr described as ‘a tangible example of our work’.
When McConnell was selected to stand in Motherwell and Wishaw, he stood down from Beattie Media. ‘I have always made it clear that I would put the constituency I hope to represent first, and I would never contemplate any potential conflict of interest,’ he explained. But the divorce was in no sense acrimonious. Barr told The Observer’s ‘Anthony James’ that McConnell has remained in close contact with the company. (McConnell said yesterday that he had spoken to the firm only twice since the election.)
But ‘Anthony James’ asked: how could the firm remain in regular contact with McConnell now he was a senior Minister? Beattie Media had allowed Christina Marshall, who worked at the firm at the same time as McConnell, to leave to work with him after the election. According to Barr, the company has been able to place an appointment in McConnell’s diary through contact with Christina Marshall.
Beattie handles PR for the Financial Director of the Year Award, said Barr. He had rung Christina and said: ‘I’d love it if Jack could make the keynote speech.’ It would ‘generate good coverage’ and give him the chance to meet ‘movers and shakers’. He continued: ‘Christina checked his diary for me and said, “Consider it done”.’
Christina Marshall said last week that McConnell had not yet decided whether he would speak at the presentation. But, she said, she does still talk to her former Beattie colleagues. Those conversations are ‘not always on business issues’, she said. The presentation had only been pencilled in to the Minister’s diary.
Barr insisted that he, Kevin Reid and company boss Gordon Beattie were all able to contact the Finance Minister.They had his office, home and pager numbers. As a Labour ‘gofer’, Kevin Reid had briefed future Scottish Ministers on a daily basis and he became close friends with a number of Labour officials who went on to become special advisers to First Minister Donald Dewar’s Cabinet.
Reid implied that, through its connections, the company had influenced government policy on freight shipment rights at Prestwick Airport. The US corporation Federal Express had threatened to pull out of Prestwick because under existing protocols it could not forward goods by air to Europe. Reid said: ‘I was quite pleased with that.’ He added: ‘It’s Lord [Gus] Macdonald at Transport [the UK Transport Minister] – that was very, very useful.’
The decision to give Fed-ex transshipment rights was controversial. British rivals complained bitterly that an opportunity to use the situation to secure reciprocal rights at US airports had been thrown away.
Barr also claimed that ‘we landed’ for a client an environmentally sensitive contract to build the Lomond Shores centre, a £60m tourist development on the banks of Loch Lomond. Enterprise Minister Henry McLeish, lured by a photo-opportunity with a golden eagle, was persuaded to launch the development.
Reid said the company could not promise meetings, but Barr added that its ethos was to fix face-to-face meetings rather than lobby directly. So could they actually arrange a meeting with a member of the Scottish Cabinet then? ‘What time scale are we talking about?’ asked Alex Barr. In the next month? ‘That should be achievable,’ replied Barr. Whom would Beattie approach? The two men looked at each other. ‘Probably Jack?’ Reid asked his senior colleague. ‘I would say so,’ confirmed Barr.
It is less than 15 months since it was disclosed how New Labour apparatchiks who had helped the party to power were now offering their services as lobbyists – boasting that they could secure inside information and had extraordinary access to Downing Street. The Labour administration at first tried to shrug it off, but Tony Blair eventually conceded that ‘we have to be very careful… that we are purer than pure’. With an inexperienced executive trying to develop a new, open style of politics in Edinburgh, lobbyists have once again penetrated the heart of government. (The Guardian)
27 Sep 1999: First Minister Donald Dewar has launched a probe launched into lobbying allegations
Scotland’s First Minister Donald Dewar has called for the parliament’s standards committee to investigate reports of links between a lobbying company and ministers. The probe follows allegations in The Observer newspaper that one of Scotland’s largest public relations firms, Beattie Media, touted for business by offering privileged access to Scottish ministers – including Finance Minister Jack McConnell.
The company has denied the allegations. However, the activities of its public affairs wing have been suspended pending an internal investigation and it has apologised for any embarrassment caused to the ministers named. The newspaper’s string of allegations include Beattie Media executives telling an undercover reporter, posing as a businessman, that they had access to ministers, most notably Mr McConnell who used to work for a company part owned by Beattie Media.
It also claimed that Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid’s son was also implicated in the affair. Kevin Reid worked for the Labour Party before joining the PR agency to head its political lobbying arm and allegedly boasted about his contacts with the Scottish secretary. A spokesman for John Reid the politician said the newspaper’s allegations against his son were laughable and without foundation.
Mr McConnell issued a statement before the paper’s publication rubbishing the charges. It says: “I’ve become aware of the newspaper linking my previous employment in 1998 with Public Affairs Europe. “I wish to make clear that neither I nor my staff have regular contact with either of the individuals named in this article or the company as a whole. “I have not in any way abused my candidacy, my election and my position as a minister. “In fact, long before the election campaign, I terminated my employment with the PR company. I want to make it perfectly clear that any allegation would be totally without foundation, I am therefore writing to request that the standards committee investigate these allegations.”
The PR company also defended its position and accused the newspaper of using extreme underhand techniques in an attempt to entrap them. But the journalist behind the story – The Observer’s Scottish Editor Dean Nelson – said there was nothing wrong with the methods used. He told BBC Radio Scotland: “Beattie Media say they are superior. It has refused to join Scotland’s professional association for lobbyists because it believes it doesn’t match up to their high standards. “All we did was to set out to test what they claim.”
A spokesman for Mr Dewar said: “The First Minister and all his colleagues are committed to the standards set out in the Ministerial Code of Conduct. “He expects the same standard from others involved in public life. “He doesn’t believe there’s been any breach of the ministerial code but he strongly supports the proposal that the Standards Committee should investigate any allegations made and consider whether there is a need for further investigations in the light of such a report.”
Speaking on BBC Radio Scotland, the leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, said if the claims were true some members of the Scottish Executive were in serious trouble. (BBC News)
27 Sep 1999: Dewar and Reid ‘rift’ widening
There are signs of a widening rift between the Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid and First Minister Donald Dewar over newspaper allegations of improper access to ministers. Donald Dewar has backed calls for a Scottish Parliament inquiry into newspaper reports that a lobbying company, Beattie Media, which employs the Secretary of State’s son Kevin, was offering privileged access to Scottish Executive Ministers. However, while Dr Reid, who heads the Scotland Office, has been vocal in his defence of his son, Dr Reid’s counterpart in the Scottish Executive, Mr Dewar, defended his ministers who were named in the story.
The row has reignited speculation of a deep chasm between the two political leaders, with rumblings of discontent reported between the two arms of government throughout the summer. While Dr Reid said his son has nothing to apologise for, Mr Dewar pointed out that ministers had been cleared of blame because Beattie Media has apologised. Mr Dewar said: “The situation has been clarified, of course, by the public and unreserved apology from the company. “That has cleared the names of ministers who were put into the frame by the whole affair and I’m very relieved and pleased about that.”
Mr Dewar said it is now up to the Scottish Parliament’s Standards and Privileges Committee, which meets on Wednesday, to establish the ground rules for lobbying companies. The first minister denied he had over-reacted to the story and added: “I’m not in the business of confrontation and I don’t think there is confrontation. “I don’t think anyone is denying that this story is unimportant. It’s not something that could have been ignored by any of us an isn’t being ignored by any of us.”
Senior ministers have said they are dismayed by Dr Reid’s reaction and Mr Dewar and his executive have asked the standards committee in the Scottish Parliament to examine the affair and the role of lobbyists. Dr Reid and Mr Dewar were pictured together smiling when they met the prime minister at Labour’s annual conference on Sunday evening but the indications from Bournemouth were that relations were at an all time low.
The controversy had clearly overshadowed what was being hailed as a triumphant conference appearance by Mr Dewar – the first since the opening of the Scottish Parliament. Mr Dewar told the conference that Labour was building the “the sort of Scotland we have always wanted” through devolution and fulfilling its promises to the people of Scotland. (BBC News)
29 Sep 1999: Finance Minister Jack McConnell – former member of Beattie Media staff denies wrongdoing
Finance Minister Jack McConnell has broken his silence to deny any wrongdoing in the Scottish Parliament lobbying row. Mr McConnell, who had worked for the company at the centre of the controversy, said allegations in The Observer newspaper were completely false.
The Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee was due to receive transcripts of the conversation between two employees of Beattie Media and a newspaper reporter who posed as a potential client seeking to use the company to gain access to ministers. One of the Beattie officials was Kevin Reid, son of Scottish Secretary John Reid. The PR company staff were secretly filmed allegedly telling the reporter they could influence Mr McConnell’s diary – the minister is a former employee of Beattie Media.
But Mr McConnell said the allegations were completely untrue and he was glad to receive an apology from the company which made that clear. He said the reputation of the parliament and the good name of Scotland were of key importance to him. Mr McConnell said the standards committee was the right body to investigate the matter and he had immediately sought contact with its convener when the story emerged. Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said: “My immediate reaction was to write a letter to Mike Rumbles to tell him what was being said about me was completely untrue and to ask him to deal with the matter through the standards committee. “I regard the reputation of the parliament and the good name of Scotland as vitally important and a top priority for me and everybody involved.” First Minister Donald Dewar has said he was convinced none of his ministers did anything wrong.
But on Tuesday Alex Salmond, Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP), said the whole parliament should discuss the so-called “Lobbygate” affair as the first item order of business on Wednesday. “The ‘Lobbygate’ allegations are extremely serious. The job of the Parliament is to investigate these allegations,” said Mr Salmond. The SNP called for the diaries of ministers to be made public in order to ensure there had been no wrongdoing and said the parliament should ban all lobbyists from its precincts.
BBC Scotland Chief Political Correspondent John Morrison said it was thought the standards committee would receive The Observer’s transcripts on Wednesday but had decided not to consider them in-depth immediately. One committee member said they had to consider the matter correctly and would not “dance to the tune of a newspaper”. (BBC News)
29 Sep 1999: Lobbyists Out of Control
Lobbyists work in the bars and restaurants near the Holyrood parliament. Their aim is to influence the decision of parliaments by meeting MPs and ministers to put across their client’s points of view. They may try, as has been alleged in the case of Kevin Reid, to set up meetings for their clients with those in power. But they have come under fire on occasions and when the Scottish Parliament was being set up moves were made to limit the lobbyists’ power.
In particular, Scotland’s politicians were keen to prevent any repeat of controversies like the “cash for questions” row which have marred Westminster politics in recent years. They decided not to give official recognition to lobby companies and to limit their access to the parliament. But still the lobbyists can be found in the bars, cafes and restaurants of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile where they seek the ear of the powerful to press their clients’ case. They seek to meet the politicians because they believe access can change policy.
Julia Clarke, of the Association of Scottish Public Affairs, believes the controversial business has its place when conducted in a reasonable manner. “Lobbying is entirely legitimate in all its different forms,” she said. “You always do have to identify who you represent when you are in contact with the parliament, it’s only fair. “They have got to know where you are coming from, who you represent. You have to got be very honest and transparent in your dealings with them. “You couldn’t offer inappropriate hospitality. It’s really common sense, it’s about what the man in the street would think is reasonable.” The corridors of power in Scotland are easier to control than those of Westminster, according to some analysts.
But Joyce McMillan, who was on the Consultative Steering Group which helped establish Scottish Parliament procedures, believes that lobbyists may have limited power. “Lobbying companies like Beattie Media only gain whatever value they are perceived to have from the perception that they are able to offer access to MSPs and ministers,” she said. “And if ministers and MSPs make it clear that they cannot offer that then really their market value is going to plummet.”
After their employees were filmed allegedly offering improper access, Beattie Media said they had no influence over ministers. That admission begs a question, according to BBC Scotland Chief Political Correspondent John Morrison: “What’s the point of lobbyists?” (BBC News)
30 Sep 1999: Beattie Media Debate – Holyrood
Donald Dewar: would like to make a statement about Beattie Media and the activities of professional lobbying firms. I learned last Friday, 24 September, that there was to be a report in The Observer of the following Sunday about the activities of the public relations firm Beattie Media. The report duly appeared. It has been widely read and a matter of much comment. The report was based on a conversation between two employees of Beattie Media and an employee of The Observer who was posing as a representative of clients who were seeking public relations and lobbying assistance. I think it is fair to describe the exchange as being essentially a sales pitch by Beattie Media.
The circumstances raise sharply ethical issues. But my particular concern, which I will deal with in this statement, is the claims that were apparently made during the meeting about the conduct of Scottish ministers. Although I was aware from newspaper reports of the principal allegations, the full text of the transcript was not made available to me until late yesterday afternoon. I am grateful to you, Sir David, for agreeing at short notice to allow me to make this statement.
Full transcript of lively debate here: “https://www.theyworkforyou.com/sp/?id=1999-09-30.937.0&s=speaker%3A14075”
Full transcript of the meeting in the Balmoral Hotel between Beattie Media and the Observer: ” https://www.theguardian.com/politics/1999/sep/29/scotlanddevolution.devolution1 ” “https://www.theguardian.com/politics/1999/sep/29/scotlanddevolution.devolution2”
Lobbygate Scandal – “Reports said evidence was destroyed”
Newspaper reports said records of contacts between Mr McConnell and his secretary and the lobbyists at the centre of the controversy would not be available to the parliament’s standards committee. However, Mr McConnell has issued a statement in which he described the allegations as “totally untrue” and said he was the victim of a smear campaign.
The committee is due to hear evidence on Monday from Mr McConnell and his secretary Christina Marshall following allegations that lobbyists from Beattie Media were offering improper access to ministers and Mr McConnell in particular.
It was reported that a notebook containing details of a contact between Mr McConnell’s secretary and the lobbying arm of the public relations company, and which would have been presented to the committee, had been destroyed. And there were further allegations that a constituency diary entry containing details of a Beattie – organised event was blotted out.
But in a statement Mr McConnell said he had provided more information to the committee than was asked for, including the specific note relating to the event in question. The minister said constituency case notes which had not been given to the committee contained confidential information which could put lives in danger if they were to be made public.
Mr McConnell said: “The suggestion that any evidence has been destroyed is totally untrue and the person responsible for this disgusting lie is bringing the whole inquiry into disrepute. “I provided more information to the committee than was asked for including the specific note relating to the event in question. “My constituency case notes contain confidential information which could put lives in danger in the wrong hands. I urge all concerned to stop playing politics with those lives.” Mr McConnell, who once worked for a Beattie Media-related company, has been the main focus for the inquiry.
The standards committee launched its inquiry after two Beattie Media executives, including Kevin Reid, son of the Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid, told a journalist posing as a potential client that they had influence with ministers. It is alleged that Mr McConnell was invited to attend an awards ceremony on behalf of one of Beattie Media’s clients and the entry was placed in the notebook by his secretary, who used to work for the company.
It is reported that the minister would face questioning under oath over an entry in his constituency diary which has been blotted out.The entry, it said, related to a financial awards dinner which the lobbyists said had been arranged with the minister without having to use official channels.
The omission had been highlighted by Malcolm Duncan, the independent adviser appointed to the Lobbygate inquiry. The revelations have led to concerns among Labour ministers over leaks from the standards committee. It is thought the Scottish Executive will call on the committee members to take an oath denying they have been responsible for leaks. (BBC News) “http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=3472&mode=html” “http://www.parliament.scot/parliamentarybusiness/report.aspx?r=3472&mode=pdf”
30 September 1999: Worst aspects of the old politics
It was, we may suppose, too good to be true. The swift decision by Donald Dewar, the First Minister, to refer allegations involving the Beattie Media lobbying firm and members of the Scottish executive to the parliament’s standards committee was like a light cast on shadows. Mr Dewar was under considerable pressure to duck the issue; to his credit, he chose the only honest course.
Now, in a style that is wearyingly familiar to observers of the Scottish political scene, the committee, guardian of the parliament’s probity and guarantor of the public’s right to open government, responds in a manner as dilatory as it is inept, apparently more interested in hunting for excuses than in demanding answers. (High Beam)
October 1, 1999: Beattie Media affair There is no sleaze to be found (The Herald)
Now that the evidence has been produced, examined, and dissected it is clear that the pursuit of sleaze in the Beattie Media affair has produced nothing of the sort. That judgement might also be made of the behaviour of the executives from the lobbying organisation which has now been disbanded, but apart from their juvenile boasting there appears nothing untoward to be found.
The First Minister, Mr Donald Dewar, was right to conclude that none of his Ministers has broken any code. His decision to investigate the extent of private- sector PR contacts across all Scottish public bodies makes obvious sense. We do not share the view that Mr Dewar was seeking to draw a line under the whole affair and discourage the back-bench Standards Committee from proceeding any further with its own inquiries. (High Beam)
October 6, 1999: Beattie Media Horror Matinee Made a Star of Tenacious Trish Marwick
Better late than never, Scotland has a real Parliament and MSPs who have suddenly grown up. In a dramatic reversal of form, the Standards Committee confounded us all by NOT acting like hypnotised rabbits. Instead, they became a watchdog with bark and bite. They saw off the Scottish Executive, established the Parliament’s authority and made it clear they will be called to heel by no one.
They held a morning matinee of the horror Lobbygate video with a bogus businessman and Beattie Media lobbyists Alex Barr and Kevin Reid, son of Scots Secretary John Reid. A star was born – tenacious Trish Marwick, the SNP list member for Mid-Scotland and Fife, who is one of the real finds of the Scottish Parliament got stuck into a wavering chairman Mike Rumbles (lib/dem)
Friday, Oct 8, 1999: Alex Barr – One of the public relations executives embroiled in the Beattie Media Lobbygate row admitted he “over-stated” his company as part of a sales pitch.
Mr Barr was giving evidence to the Scottish Parliament’s standards committee’s investigation into claims that the agency said it could arrange meetings with ministers. A meeting was attended by Alex Barr and another Beattie employee, Kevin Reid – son of the Scottish Secretary Dr John Reid.
Mr Barr was questioned by committee members on Friday along with Mr Reid, Beattie Media boss Gordon Beattie and two journalists. The next step in the investigation will take place in a fortnight’s time – after the parliament’s recess – when it is expected that Finance Minister Jack McConnell’s diaries will be examined. Members have also requested to see a full Beattie Media client list.
Reading from a prepared statement, Mr Barr said he “deeply regretted” the impact the controversy had had on everyone involved. The same words of apology were read to the committee by Mr Beattie. The firm’s boss also took the opportunity to criticise the newspaper referring to its undercover reporting as a deliberate “sting”. He was stopped halfway through his statement by committee member Tricia Marwick who said: “We should not allow a rant against The newspaper by Mr Beattie.”
Gordon Beattie called the investigation a “sting” When he was given permission to carry on, he returned to his notes and outlined what he believed was Thereal motive of the newspapers. He said: “The paper wanted to entrap the son of the Secretary of State for Scotland and thus embarrass him and Beattie Media.” then Mr Beattie was questioned for 40 minutes about his firm’s recruitment policy and his personal contact with Finance Minister Jack McConnell – a former Beattie Media employee.
In an earlier session, Mr Barr told the committee that he was so concerned following the meeting with the undercover journalist that he wrote to him on the same day to make his company’s position clear. He added: “I also made it clear in my letter that it would be both unprofessional and immoral for any public relations consultancies to promise access to ministers.”
Questioned by the committee, Mr Barr said he thought he had been in a competitive situation, bidding for business against other agencies. This, he conceded, had made him “over-state” his company to the prospective client. “I went to sell public relations and not public affairs and if there’s been any dubiety caused as a result of that, then that’s the explanation,” said Mr Barr. When asked about his links with Mr McConnell, Mr Barr said he had several contact numbers for the minister, including a pager, and read one of the numbers to the committee. Mr Barr also agreed several times to hand over his entire personal contacts book for the committee to scrutinise.
Reid outlined his recollection of the undercover filming before the committee. He said: “I explained who I knew and I explained, or what I was trying to explain, is that it doesn’t go against me that I used to work in the Labour Party. It gives me an understanding of political issues, it gives me an understanding of the politicians, it doesn’t mean I provide access.”
The Observer’s Scotland Editor, Dean Nelson, said the investigation began after the newspaper was approached by concerned politicians. He said Beattie Media was targeted because it had employed Dr Reid’s son although he had no previous experience of lobbying. Mr Nelson repeated allegations that Mr Barr and Mr Reid said they could influence the diary of Mr McConnell and had close contacts with other ministers and advisors.
10 Oct 1999: Jack McConnell, the Scottish finance minister
faces the embarrassment of an opposition campaign to highlight the “obvious flop” that was his short-lived business career – a career in which the lobbying company he headed attracted no clients and had no revenue.Members of the Scottish parliament’s standards committee are clear that their Lobbygate investigations into Beattie Media’s claims about access to ministers have focused even more sharply on McConnell’s role. The prospect of other ministers being called before the committee has receded – particularly for First Minister Donald Dewar and for Sam Galbraith, the schools, children and sports minister. (High Beam)
October 15, 1999: Gordon Beattie refuses to let the Lobbygate scandal bring his company down
Gordon Beattie refuses to let the ’lobbygate’ scandal which has engulfed his agency in the last three weeks bring him down. ’We have not lost one client since the publicity,’ he asserts confidently. But two minutes later comes a sheepish qualification: Beattie Media has actually lost two clients – a charity he refuses to name and the UK Atomic Energy Authority, both previously on the books of the fledgling public affairs arm Beattie had to shut down earlier this month.
But two minutes later comes a sheepish qualification: Beattie Media has actually lost two clients – a charity he refuses to name and the UK Atomic Energy Authority, both previously on the books of the fledgling public affairs arm Beattie had to shut down earlier this month.
This retraction is classic Beattie: an overwhelming belief in brash self-promotion as the only way to propel clients – and now himself – out of a crisis, even to the point of skating over minor truths. By all accounts, it worked two years ago, when Beattie spun the Lanarkshire Health Board out of Scotland’s e-coli crisis – a case made much of in Beattie’s promotional literature.
Applying this blind promotion-as-panacea doctrine – floating as it does somewhere between arrogance and naivete – Beattie himself has risen from small-time reporter to the head of Scotland’s largest independent PR agency in 17 years.
He started his career as a reporter on the Wishaw Press, ’breaking my parents’ hearts’ by not taking a place at university to read history and politics. Ten years later, after several years floating in and out of various local Scottish papers, he set up his own Lanarkshire-based news agency, Beattie Media. In 1987, ’a businessman came along and said: ’would you write me a press release?’ I said: ’no, I’m a real journalist, I don’t do press releases.’ But he offered me pounds 300, and I said: ’wait till I get my pencil’.’
So, Beattie sold his hack’s soul to the PR devil. He managed to keep the news agency running in tandem with what blossomed into a PR business for 12 years, before Scottish news editors started raising their eyebrows at Beattie – generated copy about Beattie clients appearing unadulterated on their pages. He resolved this minor crisis in his business by selling the news agency in 1994.
And Beattie has not looked back since, using the same business nous which led him into public relations to capitalise on the outsourcing boom among Scottish local enterprise councils in the 1980s to gain a foothold in public sector PR.
He is a notoriously hard worker – and those who fail to meet his expectations have felt the brunt of a temper he says is now ’a lot more mild than it used to be’. But almost all former colleagues testify to Beattie’s media relations skills. ’His approach is different from other Scottish PR companies: he offers a press release that can almost be lifted straight onto the pages,’ says Scotsman journalist Alison Hardie. The results are impressive: an agency which expects to hit a pounds 5 million fee income this year, with over 150 clients. Beattie’s only apparent concessions to the high life are a Jaguar XK8, a holiday home in Florida and indulging in his passion for food – ’I don’t cook it, I just eat it!’
During his rise, Beattie has sailed close to the wind before – the dubious news-cum-PR operation is an example. But he is now caught in a far bigger crisis – a political scandal with potentially huge implications for Scotland’s nascent parliament that even the most generous dollop of PR may not stave off. It is ironic that, as Beattie admits: ’I am not interested in politics. I’ve never been a member of a party and I’ve only voted once in my adult life.’ He admits with open humility: ’In hindsight you could say it was an unfortunate decision to go into public affairs. If I’d been more interested in politics, I would have paid more attention.’
This attention deficit enabled two of his public affairs consultants to make ill-judged claims about the closeness of their connections to Edinburgh and Westminster politicians before an Observer camera. These claims themselves should not bring Beattie Media down, especially if they prove to relate more to Draper-style braggadocio than true access. But they have triggered media and political interest in Beattie’s stranglehold on public sector PR contracts for agencies which compete for public money and inward investment.
Jack Irvine, founder of rival Media House, says he has been invited to pitch for just one of the four juicy contracts Beattie currently holds. It is these allegations which may prove more damaging in the long run.As Beattie himself has admitted in the past, his agency would have to close if its public sector contracts were pulled out from under its feet. Scotland’s political coming of age would then have found its first victim. (PR Week)
1982: Sets up Beattie Media news agency
1987: Sets up Beattie Media PR division
1994: Sells news agency
1999: Closes Beattie Media’s public affairs division
24 Oct 1999: Lobbygate firm boasted of Cabinet ties
Beattie Media, the firm at the centre of Scotland’s Lobbygate scandal, boasted openly of close ties between Kevin Reid, head of its lobbying arm, and senior members of the UK Cabinet when it bid for new business, The Observer has established. This latest revelation, ahead of tomorrow’s session of the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee inquiry into the affair, further undermines Beattie’s insistence that it hired employees for their abilities alone, rather than their contacts through friends and family with figures in the political hierarchy.
On 8 October, Gordon Beattie, head of Beattie Media, told the Standards Committee that ‘people are employed by the company because of their abilities and skills, full stop.’ The growth of the company had ‘not happened because of political contacts,’ he said. Beattie maintained he had ‘no interest in politics’. But biographies of Beattie staff sent out to potential clients and obtained by The Observer show that the political contacts of Kevin Reid, the son of Scottish Secretary John Reid, and Gordon Beattie were highlighted as key attributes when the firm was trying to win new business.
Beattie is described as ‘one of Europe’s leading communications professionals with contacts at the highest levels of political and business life’. Reid, who was recruited from his job monitoring the media for the Scottish Labour Party to head Beattie’s political lobbying operation, is described as having ‘extensive contacts in the Tony Blair Cabinet and throughout the Scottish political party network’.
Reid met senior Scottish political figures in his Labour Party job. Former colleagues say his only contacts with the UK Cabinet were with his father and any Ministers he might have met through his father. John Reid was a Transport Minister when Kevin Reid was interviewed for the job with Beattie and later became Scottish Secretary. Giving evidence under oath to the Standards Committee, Beattie said: ‘I will tell you why I recruited Kevin Reid. I was extremely impressed by Kevin when he came along for an interview. I gave him the hardest interview that I have ever given anyone, because I was not going to recruit him just because his father was the Minister for Transport.’ He went on to say: ‘I do not ask people whom I recruit who their daddy is.’
Beattie Media’s lobbying arm was closed last month after the disclosure of details of claims made by Kevin Reid and Alex Barr, a Beattie director, when they pitched for business to a reporter posing as a businessman. At that meeting, Reid volunteered a list of the people he had dealt with in Scottish politics and said he knew the Secretary of State ‘very, very well because he’s my father’. He was careful to say that his contacts did not mean that he could promise access to the Scottish Executive.
Kevin Reid claimed to the Standards Committee inquiry that he had listed who he knew in Scottish politics only because he ‘was constantly being asked who I know and what access I could provide.’ But today’s disclosure about written material given out by Beattie shows that the firm was exploiting Reid’s claimed contacts with the Blair Cabinet as part of the firm’s formal bidding process. According to one former client of Beattie’s public affairs wing, Reid pointed out verbally that he was the son of the Scottish Secretary while pitching for an account. In a meeting with The Observer’s businessman, he volunteered the information, unprompted. (The Observer)
26 Oct 1999: McConnell faces quiz under oath over Lobbygate
Scottish Finance Minister Jack McConnell will be quizzed under oath tomorrow over the Holyrood Lobbygate scandal. He will be the first Scottish Executive Minister to face MSPs on the Standards Committee over the cash-for-access claims. McConnell and his constituency secretary, Christina Marshall, will be grilled by the committee over an invitation the minister received from PR and lobby specialists Beattie Media to speak at an awards dinner for financial directors next February. Reports at the weekend said that a notebook containing details of conversations between Marshall and Beattie executive Alex Barr had been destroyed. However, yesterday, McConnell denied that records linked to the invitation had been destroyed or had gone missing. …(High beam)
28 Oct 1999: Who’s telling the truth? MSPs to decide on Lobbygate.
Finance minister Jack McConnell and his secretary Christina Marshall appeared before the Scottish Parliament’s standards committee – and flatly contradicted claims made by Beattie Media executive Alex Barr about their conduct. Speaking under oath, McConnell said there was no truth to claims that Beattie – his previous employers – could influence which events he attended as a minister.
The committee’s inquiry was set up after a reporter with The Observer, posing as a businessman, was offered access to ministers by Barr and fellow Beattie executive Kevin Reid, son of Scots Secretary John Reid. But McConnell told the committee nobody could make such promises and added: “I give a categorical assurance I have never at any stage breached the Ministerial Code. “There is no evidence to suggest I have ever been, or would be, improperly influenced in conducting my ministerial duties.”
Miss Marshall was questioned about Barr’s claim before the committee earlier this month that she had agreed to accept an invitation from Beattie Media for McConnell to speak at a dinner next February. She insisted she had given no such indication. Committee convener Mike Rumbles reminded her: “Alex Barr in his evidence on several occasions made it quite clear that he understood this would be confirmed.”
But Miss Marshall, 22, the daughter of Labour MP David Marshall, said: “I cannot comment on Mr Barr’s evidence. “My version is different from Mr Barr’s. I never gave any indication that Mr McConnell would attend.” She said the shorthand notebook she was using at the time of Barr’s phone call had been destroyed two or three weeks before the Observer story was published as she routinely destroyed her used notebooks. She said her only other contact with Beattie Media, other than through personal contacts with junior members of staff with whom she had worked, was an invitation to McConnell to attend a Scottish Premier League match. The committee did not pursue this.
McConnell backed Miss Marshall’s version of events and claimed he had told her not to follow the matter up unless there was a formal invitation. It was the type of event he might like to attend, but had already decided to keep his diary clear in January and February because he would be responsible for piloting the first budget Bill through the Parliament. He said that since he had become an MSP, his only contact with Beattie Media had been two phone calls from owner Gordon Beattie – one to congratulate him on his election and the other about a mutual acquaintance who had taken ill And he insisted that he had had no contact what-soever with Kevin Reid or Alex Barr.
The committee will meet again tomorrow to examine Miss Marshall’s record of her conversation with Observer journalist Dean Nelson, as well as a record of the question and answer session with McConnell and First Minister Donald Dewar on the affair. (Daily Record)
28 Oct 1999: Chirpy Jack Will Survive Lobbygate but This Inept Investigation into Sleaze Is Failing Badly to Live Up to Any Standard
As Jack McConnell defended his role in the Lobbygate affair before the Standards Committee yesterday, it was possible to see the ground hardening beneath his feet. As he spoke it became apparent that he was not going to lose his job over the scandal. But at the same time, it also became clear that a glass ceiling was slotting into place above his head. Jack, the chirpy Finance Minister, will survive this murky business.
He will keep his job, but as each week passes it becomes increasingly difficult for him to shake off the Lobbygate affair. It may well prevent him him scaling the political heights in the way he, and others, always assumed he would. The Finance Minister’s problem with Lobbygate is that, although, no one has actually been found to have done anything illegal, the seemingly interminable nature of the investigation into the affair in many ways only serves to sustain a climate of sleaze. … (High Beam)
29 Oct 1999: How Jack McConnell’s girl stole centre stage – Lobbygate reveals real star of Holyrood
She is the woman who has taken centre stage on the Scottish political scene. Although never having stood for election, Christina Marshall has become a household name in the last few weeks. That was never her goal – but as constituency secretary to Finance Minister Jack McConnell, she has become the focal point of the Lobbygate scandal consuming the Scottish Parliament. She’s been accused of destroying a notebook and using Tippex to conceal information said to provide evidence confirming allegations that lobby firm Beattie Media could guarantee clients access to senior politicians. And earlier this week, she was forced to give evidence under oath to the standards committee about her role in the affair.
It’s all a far cry from the 22-year-old’s previous life as a dancer, gymnast and sometime model for wedding dresses. She used to work for Beattie Media and, while there, posed in a wedding gown to publicise the Live-wire Scottish Start-Up awards at Hearts’ Tynecastle ground. It was during her time with Beattie that she met McConnell – another former employee of the PR firm. But in his evidence to the standards committee, he stressed that link had nothing to do with her getting the job in his constituency office. He said she was offered the post after an “open, fair and professional” selection procedure and insisted she was “the best candidate for the job”.
But Christina is no stranger to politics. Her father is David Marshall, the Labour MP for Glasgow Shettleston for the last 20 years. And she mounted an impressive display as she denied culpability for any wrongdoing in her appearance before the committee. Her performance showed a clear understanding of political manoeuvring – no doubt inherited from her father. But she also displayed nimble footwork fielding questions on the matter and diverting attention back on Beattie executive Alex Barr as she contradicted his claims that she had arranged for an engagement to be placed in the minister’s diary.
Not that Christina is any stranger to nimble footwork. The ex-pupil of Eastbank Academy in Glasgow is a former dancer who trained in a variety of disciplines – tap, stage and modern. She also trained in gymnastics and has a student teacher qualification. She kept up her dance routines until she graduated from college when she found that work and dance just could not mix. But she still likes to keep fit and tries to keep in shape with aerobics and swimming although these have been curtailed during the last five weeks since the Lobbygate row broke.
Christina, who has two older brothers, is a home bird and still lives with her parents. Yesterday, she was maintaining as low a profile as possible, agreeing to speak only briefly about her ordeal in front of the MSPs. She would only say: “Before the committee hearing I was very nervous, but it wasn’t as bad as I had thought.” Christina left school in 1995 and spent two years at Bell College in Hamilton where she graduated with an HND in Information and Office Management. She then spent six months working in her father’s office in Westminster. From there, it was on to the United States for three months as an intern with the Financial Times in Washington before returning to Scotland. It was at that time she started work as an assistant PA to Gordon Beattie, the head of the Lanarkshire-based PR empire.
A few weeks ago, it was the over-enthusiastic “sales pitch” from Beattie executives’ to an undercover Observer journalist posing as a businessman which sparked off the Lobbygate row. One of the key allegations against McConnell was the claim by Beattie executive Alex Barr that they could gain access to government ministers including Sam Galbraith, Henry McLeish, Jackie Baillie and McConnell attendance at a function just by making one phone call to Christina – but she insisted to the committee that his allegations were completely wrong. The evidence of the two witnesses, both given under oath, showed glaring discrepancies.
But the committee did not pursue them further, and instead concentrated on McConnell’s conduct.On the question of the missing notebook, Christina told MSPs it had been destroyed two or three weeks before the Observer story broke. She said she routinely destroyed notebooks when they were filled. When challenged by a committee member over whether the missing book had been filled, she showed a thrifty streak when she replied : “Yes, I wouldn’t destroy a book that wasn’t full.”
It has been a high-pressure period for Christina who wasn’t to know when she started working for McConnell that he would rise to a top post in the Scottish Executive. The former general secretary of the Labour Party in Scotland has found himself in the firing line over Lobbygate – and Christina has had to take her share of the flak as well. During the committee hearing, she was at pains to stress her professional skills. She now wants to develop these skills in the relative obscurity of her relatively anonymous job. But first, she and her boss must wait for the standards committee to decide where the truth of Lobbygate really lies. (Daily Record)
1 Nov 1999: Police to probe Holyrood “perjury” MP’s daughter facing inquiry into evidence
MP’S daughter Christina Marshall could face a police investigation after her evidence to the Lobbygate inquiry. The secretary’s testimony didn’t match statements made by Alex Barr, an employee of the Beattie Media PR firm at the centre of the probe. Now the Scottish Parliament’s Standards Committee, which is investigating the affair involving Gordon Beattie’s lobby company, is expected to highlight the contradiction between Barr’s and Marshall’s evidence. That would open the way for the Procurator Fiscal to launch a perjury investigation.
The committee cleared finance minister Jack McConnell of any wrongdoing when it met on Friday but also highlighted differences in evidence between Barr and Marshall, McConnell’s constituency secretary. Their accounts of a telephone conversation had appeared to be at odds and Scottish Nationalist member of the committee Tricia Marwick MSP said Marshall had called it “a difference of recollection”. Marwick added: “In my view, there was a difference of fact. “I don’t think it is the role of this committee to decide who, between Christina Marshall and Alex Barr, was not telling the truth.”
Labour member Adam Ingram said: “I think a message has to be sent out loud and clear from here that if individuals do not take the oath seriously, then there are implications that follow from that.” Yesterday committee convenor Mike Rumbles said: “There are major concerns by committee members that we have conflicting evidence given under oath. “It is obvious in the view of members that one of these two people was not telling the truth.”
There have already been calls from the SNP and Tories for an independent watchdog to be appointed who would advise and adjudicate on future allegations of misconduct among MSPs in the wake of the lobbygate affair. Yesterday a spokesman for First Minister Donald Dewar said: “We have some sympathy with the view expressed but it is a matter for the committee and we will wait and see what they recommend.” The committee is currently drawing up a code of practice for MSPs and one of the options it will consider is appointing an independent commissioner. But Dewar last night came out in favour of a commissioner being appointed.
He told BBC’s Holyrood programme: “I think there is a very strong feeling across the parliament that the procedure was clumsy and if there had been someone to sift the evidence and gather the facts before the Standards Committee then we would not have seen so much damaging speculation and difficulty.” (Daily Record)
10 Nov 1999: Lobbygate -The McConnell Affair
In April 1998 Beattie Media launched Public Affairs Europe, a joint venture with commercial lawyers Maclay, Murray and Spens. Jack McConnell (who later became Scottish First Minister), the former general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party was recruited and employed as a director for around 9 months in which time he won no clients and brought in no fees, as was also George McKechnie, a former editor of The Herald
McConnell’s links with Beattie Media were later to become central to the Scottish Parliament Standards Committee’s investigation of the Lobbygate affair. He was recruited by Beattie Media because of his political connections and prospects: ‘We appointed Jack McConnell to head up our public affairs consultancy, in the certain knowledge that Jack would get a safe seat from the Labour Party, and in the hope and expectation that he would also get a cabinet position within the new administration. So we knew that Jack was going to leave us. (Observer transcript 1999: 2).
Concern centred on the probity of such an overtly political appointment given the history of sleaze at Westminster.
Damian Killeen, Director of the Poverty Alliance in Glasgow, wrote to The Herald expressing his fears “The growth in the number of lobbying companies in Scotland, in advance of the Scottish Parliament, is happening with relatively little critical comment. Some of these companies are staffed by people who recently or currently have occupied prominent political positions.
There is little doubt that their access to senior politicians is an important part of these companies’ sales pitch. Government in Scotland has, so far, done little to disassociate itself from these developments. What signals does this send out to those who are looking to the new Parliament to provide a level of accessibility and inclusiveness? (Killeen 1998: 16) (powerbase info Beattie Media)
3 Oct 1999: Beattie Media – Is This How they Corner the Market in Scotland
Gordon Beattie left the Evening Times at the age of 26 to set up a news agency. Now he runs Scotland’s largest public relations company. However, within a week a tale of hard work has turned into a crisis. The company’s lobbying arm has been closed down since The Observer revealed its employees boasting of special access. The Scottish National Party is calling for every contract Beattie Media holds with public sector agencies to be suspended pending a full inquiry.
In its early days the stories the young Lanarkshire news agency would flog to news desks were ‘crap’, according to one tabloid editor of the Eighties. Injuries in traffic accidents jostled alongside weak business stories, but editors admired the sheer work rate.
Beattie Media got into PR. Slowly, editors became aware that the local stories were promoting the same Lanarkshire businesses which happened to be Beattie Media’s PR clients. The clients were paying Gordon Beattie, as were the newspapers who ran the stories. Editors stopped running the copy. It was a neat trick that reveals Beattie’s ability to see a novel business opportunity. ‘He’s a very dynamic guy, into all that American business philosophy,’ says one former employee. ‘PR is all about learning things about people they’d prefer you didn’t know. Gordon’s a great exponent of trading stories,’ says one of the many ex-journalists who have passed through Beattie Media’s doors. The company’s greatest fillip was to come up with the Tory policy of making public agencies outsource services. All the local enterprise companies that make up the Scottish Enterprise network, had lucrative contracts for private firms.
Beattie Media first won the contract for the Lanarkshire Development Agency. Now it has contracts with the Glasgow Development Agency; Lothian and Edinburgh Enterprise Limited; and Ayrshire Enterprise. It also does much of the PR for Scottish Enterprise, including the SE agencies Scotland the Brand and the Skills portfolio. This domination of the enterprise sector has already led to concerns that Beattie Media are monopolising the field.
It also allowed their employee, Alex Barr, to boast to The Observer ‘that major capital projects don’t tend to happen without us knowing about it’. The close links between Beattie Media and enterprise agencies is now causing concern amongst the Scottish Executive.
A question-and-answer briefing document for Donald Dewar obtained by The Observer reveals that an informal investigation into the firm’s influence is to be undertaken. The briefing poses the hypothetical question: ‘Will you require Beattie Media’s Scottish public sector clients to terminate their contracts with the company (West of Scotland Water, Scottish Enterprise, LECs)?’.
The First Minister’s suggested answer is: ‘These are matters in the first instance for the bodies themselves. But I have arranged for further enquiries to be made by my Department of the use by any public authorities for which Scottish Ministers are responsible of external public relations or professional lobbying organisations.’ The briefing goes on to ask if it is possible to distinguish between PR firms and lobbying activities, with a suggested answer of ‘this is something the enquiries I am making will address’.
The focus is now turning to the question of how Gordon Beattie was so successful in winning big ticket contracts. Other Scottish PR firms were more than willing to give their own explanations.
Beattie Media put a PR team into West of Scotland Water before the contract was advertised for tender. PR rivals say Beattie Media were in place for more than three months, the maximum limit for a public body to retain paid advisers without a competitive tendering process. A source in West of Scotland Water told The Observer that Beattie Media was originally in the running against Shandwick PR, but ‘it didn’t matter what Shandwick did, Beattie were going to get it’.
It caused anger in the company that Gordon Beattie approached senior members of the board offering his services when the in-house team was still operating. The Observer has been told that ‘Beattie undermined the existing staff’. Scotland is a small place, and who you know counts for a lot. By employing Andrew Livingstone, the son of the chief executive of Lanarkshire Development Agency, Ian Livingstone, and Debbie Allison, the daughter of Beattie Media client Clydeport’s chief executive, Tom Allison, the firm can’t have done itself any harm.
However, Gordon Beattie may now regret employing the son of Secretary of State for Scotland John Reid. Kevin Reid boasted to The Observer that Beattie Media helped win the ‘open skies’ policy for Prestwick airport. APCO UK, Beattie Media’s former London associates, say the company had no involvement whatever in the deal. https://www.theguardian.com/politics/1999/oct/03/scotlanddevolution.devolution3
19 Nov 1999: The son of Scottish Secretary John Reid has resigned from his public relations job following the Lobbygate controversy.
A spokesman for Beattie Media stressed it was Kevin Reid’s own decision to leave. Mr Reid was secretly filmed with a colleague by a newspaper, which reported that the company said it could provide access to government ministers. The Scottish Parliament’s Standards committee has published its final report on the affair, which cleared ministers of any wrong-doing. No evidence was found that any MSP had breached any code of conduct.
But the report expressed concern about a conflict between the evidence of Alex Barr, an employee of Beattie Media, and Christina Marshall, the secretary of Finance Minister Jack McConnell, who was at the centre of the most serious allegations. The committee’s remit only extends to MSPs and its investigation can go no further.
It will now focus on drawing up a code of conduct for MSPs which will include appropriate safeguards against the influence of lobbyists. The report also recommends the Ministerial Code of Conduct should be re-examined as it makes no reference to lobbyists. Negotiations are under way to appoint an independent commissioner for parliamentary standards. The move won widespread support when proposed last month as it would allow allegations against MSPs to be vetted by a legally-trained official, to weed out the trivial, malicious or politically motivated claims.
The standards committee would still have authority to investigate allegations of a serious nature, but a process of pre-scrutiny, similar to the one which operates at Westminster, would ease the committee’s workload. (BBC News)
5 Aug 2001: Beattie Media looks for some private time after a rather public battering
His company has gained many public sector contracts. But now, the tide may be turning for Gordon Beattie. He used to boast to new employees that his first- ever PR contract was with a slaughterhouse owner who paid Beattie to keep his name OUT the newspapers. Beattie, who has since built up a company that employs 140 people, could do with a personal PR man at the moment to keep his own name out the papers.
The problem is that Beattie has become as well known in Scotland as most of his clients – but for the wrong reasons. Beattie Media’s many contracts with public sector organisations down the years have long been the subject of scrutiny by former colleagues in the newspaper industry. The company effectively grew on the back of contracts with public sector organisations like local enterprise firms, but has since expanded successfully into the private sector in a big way. …(High Beam)
End of Lobbygate report – Not Quite There’s an Epilogue
16 Aug 2007: Jack McConnell too slick for his own good
He left his General Secretary role in 1998 to work for 9 months at a lobbying firm Public Affairs Europe Ltd, which was a joint venture between Beattie Media and Scottish law firm Maclay Murray & Spens. In 1999, he entered Holyrood as Motherwell and Wishaw MSP
History will not be very kind, I suspect, to Jack McConnell, always assuming that it acknowledges his presence at all. He insists that he saved devolution, after the death of one First Minister in harness and the resignation of another in unhappy circumstances, by “doing less, better”. However, I’m very much afraid that posterity will probably judge that he didn’t do much of anything. And if he was the saviour of devolution, did he save it only to hand it over to the nationalists? After all, it was on Mr McConnell’s watch that the SNP marched to their first-ever election victory.
All of this may well be a cruel verdict on a man who led his party for six years but Jack McConnell failed massively to live up to the promise of his early career and for a ferociously ambitious man he will surely, in his heart of hearts, feel a keen disappointment this morning that he missed a great opportunity. Denounced by his opponents right from the start as the archetypal machine politician, because of his background as a local council leader and then general secretary of the Scottish Labour Party, Mr McConnell could have been – indeed should have been – much more than that. He saw, earlier than most in the hide-bound and ultra traditionalist Scottish Labour Party, the huge advantages and public appeal of the New Labour project. He was an enthusiastic proponent of change but if he made a crucial error it was to plump so obviously and dedicatedly for Tony Blair instead of Gordon Brown as Labour leader on the death of John Smith in 1994.
As Scottish general secretary he was immediately accused, whether rightly or wrongly, of organising the party north of the border against Mr Brown – seen as a heinous crime in a party and country where the man who is now Prime Minister has long ruled the roost. The upshot was that it was not until recently that the two men could be said to be comfortable working with each other. Perhaps because of a reputation for being a bit too much of an ‘operator’, Mr McConnell was never a confidante of Donald Dewar, the first First Minister, although he held the finance portfolio in the first devolved Scottish ‘cabinet’. He staked his claim for the top job by challenging the ‘Brownite’ candidate, Henry McLeish, after Dewar died in 2000 and was thus a virtual shoo-in one year later when McLeish was forced to resign after a row over his office expenses.
His coronation came to pass then when Wendy Alexander, a close friend and supporter of Gordon Brown, pulled out of the contest. Although he had initially been in the vanguard of attempts to force Scottish Labour to adopt a more progressive agenda, especially in terms of health and education provision, strangely it was when he finally took charge of that agenda that Mr McConnell began to disappoint. Determined to calm things down, he actually set in train a period of stagnation where there was no big idea, no vision – merely a plodding determination not to make mistakes and an increasing focus on his own persona. And even the manner of his going was last night mired in murky controversy.
Alex Salmond, who beat Mr McConnell in the May 2007 election, wasn’t far wrong, in his message of good wishes to his vanquished opponent last night, when he singled out the last administration’s achievements as the smoking ban, the determination to improve Scotland’s health record and the former First Minister’s aid efforts in Malawi. Creditable perhaps, but not exactly earth-shattering. Major gaffes – such as initially refusing to attend the D-day celebrations in Normandy and wearing ‘that’ kilt in New York, as well as a row over his spending a Christmas holiday with Kirsty Wark, the News night presenter – led to a cooling of relationships between Mr McConnell and the media.
His own backbenchers and ministers began also to turn against him, too, thanks in no small part to his ‘kitchen’ cabinet of special advisers, who owed their loyalty only to him. He mounted a spirited fight-back during the May election campaign but there was nothing like enough affection for him among the voters to counteract either the appeal of Alex Salmond or the determination to punish Tony Blair. Too clever by half is an epithet thrown at many politicians, often unfairly. Too slick for his own good will probably be the judgement on Jack McConnell. Comments:
Jack McConnell – or Joke MhcConnell – as he is also known is a prime example of the poor quality of career politician that functions in Scotland today. Never happier than when at his beloved Celtic Park, Joke’s sole function for Labour was to pander to the RC vote (traditional Labour voters in Scotland) at election time – he would trot out the same old its “Scotland’s shame” when heaping all of Scotland’s sectarian problems on one particular section of Scottish society (and it isn’t those who favour Celtic Park!). He and his party had 8 years to address Scotland’s real shame – endemic alcohol and drug abuse; sink estates with rampant violence and an economy that has 25% of the working population reliant on the state for their living; and finally the generations of families on benefits from cradle to grave(Labour voters of course). How the man can look himself in the mirror after this announcement goodness only knows. Does Joke have dirty pictures of the PM or some other high-ranking Labour lackey?
Greville Warwick :
What your article confirms is the dire situation in Scotland under Labour. Let’s face it, Scotland was never supposed to be anything other than an obedient client of Labour in office at Westminster. The rewards on offer for those willing to go along with this were of the personal sort. Nowhere in any of Labour’s manifestos or agendas can one spot what is the real purpose of Scotland’s independence. It has taken The SNP to define and demonstrate what is independence and that definition is different to the Westminster version of Scotland being run as a sort of glorious Quango by appointment and favour.
It is hard to see why the connection with Labour in Scotland has endured. Scotland as a nation has lost out all the way. In economic terms Scotland is severely deprived and one of the lowest performers in the EU and in several other comparisons with other states. All of this horror despite Scotland being a major oil and gas producer. Added to this Scotland should be a major ship builder in a time of an international shortage of shipping. Scotland used to be pre-eminent in engineering and the sciences. Scotland was a well educated nation with good schools and top universities. Tell me, what use has Labour in Scotland made of any of these advantages?
An independent Scotland could attract the sort of international firms and financial establishments that presently go to London for financials and to Ireland and elsewhere for technology and innovation. Wake up! You owe Labour and government by diktat from Westminster absolutely nothing except your contempt. It is odd that Westminster insists on appointing a Secretary of State for Scotland. Who is also the Secretary of State for Defence. What is a part-timer doing for Scotland and why is he needed in addition to Alex Salmond the elected First Minister? The SNP has a lot to do but I feel a good start has been made and imaginations have been fired. This is excellent for starters. (The Telegraph)
And there is even more. Remember Jack McConnell’s Personal Assistant The Lady that backed him to the hilt and denied Beattie media’s claims to have open access to Jacks diary – Well it turned out her well mentioned honourable member MP for Glasgow East was a bit of a naughty boy who struggled with the truth
29 Jun 2008: Labour’s Marshall in shock resignation after rumours over expenses
Scottish Labour MP David Marshall’s shock resignation came after rumours swept Westminster that he was about to be engulfed in a row over expenses payments to family members.
Senior Labour sources dismissed reports that the Glasgow East MP’s resignation was entirely the result of his health problems. They said privately that former bus conductor Mr Marshall, 67, was quitting his safe seat to avoid becoming the latest MP to be embroiled in allegations of misuse of expenses. During the past three years he has claimed nearly £220,000 to pay for staff, plus £7,000 for their travel expenses. He lists one member of staff on the Commons’ register of secretaries and research assistants – Christina Marshall.
But last night it was unclear whether that was his wife, known as Tina, or his daughter Christina. The mystery deepened when it was disclosed that he had not made any mention of relatives working for him on the new official register listing family members paid by MPs out of their Commons staffing allowance.
The list was introduced in April in the wake of the row over MPs employing close relatives at huge cost to the taxpayer. Yesterday, neighbours of Mr Marshall at his semi-detached home in Glasgow’s East End said they believed his wife Tina worked for him. Separately, former Labour Minister Brian Wilson told The Mail on Sunday that Mrs Marshall had ‘always been his constituency secretary’.
Mr Marshall’s daughter Christina, 31, is a former assistant to former Scottish First Minister Jack McConnell and is understood to have previously worked for her father at the House of Commons. Four years ago she found herself at the centre of the so-called ‘Wishawgate’ affair, which embroiled her then boss.
Christina, then 26, had been Mr McConnell’s personal aide and found herself having to answer questions from the fraud squad about £11,000 which was missing from his local party funds. Local Labour bosses called in the police after unearthing the shortfall and, as one of only three signatories to the fund, she was closely questioned.
Also, a charity she was working for at the time asked her to leave, telling her that it did not want its reputation to be tarnished by the affair. The missing money was from the Red Rose Dinner Account, which managed cash raised at a Labour fundraiser attended by Mr McConnell and the then Northern Ireland Secretary John Reid.
Mr McConnell also had to explain why one of three accounts under investigation had paid £168 for a five-star room for Mr Marshall at Edinburgh’s Caledonian Hotel during a Scottish Labour conference in March 2000.
Christina met Mr McConnell when they both worked for Beattie Media, a public relations company. In 1999, she was also forced to testify during the Scottish ‘cash for access’ scandal when Mr McConnell was accused – and later cleared – of facilitating special access to Ministers for Beattie Media’s clients.
Her evidence was key to Mr McConnell’s reputation being cleared after she denied that the company had ever been able to place an engagement in his diary. Asked to comment on reports that Mr Marshall was about to become embroiled in allegations concerning payments to members of his family from Commons expenses, a Scottish Labour spokesman said: ‘There is nothing further that we want to add. The health issue is genuinely there and he is receiving treatment and advice on that.’ (The Mail online)
Well – Well – Well that’s it then!! No just a little bit more- Jack McConnell survived to Lobby gate scandal for the single reason that his Personal Assistant supported him and denied there had been open access to his diary.. Had she confirmed the allegation made by Mr Barr her boss would have been forced to resign and the future of Scotland would have been so different. The inquiry gave credence to her evidence. After all she was the daughter of an Honourable member of the Westminster Parliament. But was the inquiry willingly conned by a young ladies. I believe so. But just to confirm my thoughts are based on fact and not supposition read on;
4 Dec 2011: Christina Marshall (she of the Lobbygate and Wishagate scandals) and her “top of the range” car fraudster husband take up the business once again
A convicted car fraudster is back in business selling second-hand motors to unsuspecting customers. James Doyle, 47, is the man behind the Glasgow Motor Company, based in Paisley. The father-of-two runs his new showroom with his wife Christina, 34, who is the daughter of former Labour MP David Marshall. They sell second-hand and luxury motors, including Maserati’s, Rolls-Royce’s and Audi’s. But people who flock to his forecourt will be unaware that Doyle served time in prison for duping past customers.
In February 2007 at Dumbarton Sheriff Court he admitted defrauding 57 people out of pounds 89,000 worth of deposits at his UK Vehicle Solutions Business in Clydebank and was jailed for eight months. The 57 victims had paid deposits in August 2005 for top-of-the-range luxury cars – but never received them. Trading standards investigators from West Dunbartonshire Council received 150 complaints about his firm the next month from furious customers. They passed the file to Strathclyde Police who launched a major fraud probe. But it took officers 18 months to bring Doyle to court because he disappeared after UK Vehicle Solutions shut down.
He was eventually traced and appeared in court on February 22, 2007, charged with 57 fraud offences equating to more than pounds 136,000 worth of stolen deposits. But the value of the fraud was reduced to pounds 89,493.95 after he agreed to plead guilty. It’s thought the total value of the cars ordered by customers was around pounds 1million. But it is not known how many of the cars were Doyle’s to sell.
Company boss Stuart Green, from Birmingham, paid a pounds 1176 deposit for a pounds 40,000 Porsche Boxster in August 2005 to Doyle’s company. But when he phoned the next month to check on his delivery date, the lines to the firm’s offices were dead. He realised he had been duped and called the trading standards department, who told him of other victims. At the time Doyle was offering people the chance to acquire the luxury cars through a leaseback arrangement, paying so much a month for the first three years. After that they had the option of buying the car or trading it in.
Stuart, 39, said: “I felt very stupid being ripped off but Doyle and his firm seemed so genuine. “It is ridiculous that he can set up a car business after being sent to jail for defrauding previous customers. “There is surely a greater need for some sort of licensing or regulation. “I never saw a penny of my money but he doesn’t seem to be out of pocket.” A West Dunbartonshire Council spokeswoman said: “Officers are unaware if any consumers received a refund for deposits paid.” Doyle declined to comment when we contacted him at the Glasgow Motor Company offices. (Daily Record)
1 Jul 2012: Convicted fraudster James Doyle does vanishing act after luxury car business goes bust
Luxury car fraudster James Doyle is being probed by police after his latest business went bust. Customers of the Glasgow Motor Company looking for their cars or payment last week found the doors locked and Doyle nowhere to be seen. A notice said the firm had ceased trading. Scores of luxury and second-hand cars, including Maserati’s and Rolls-Royce’s, had disappeared overnight.
Police have been inundated with complaints from angry customers. Many had been sold faulty cars and were waiting for them to be fixed. Some of the victims had given Doyle cars to sell but haven’t been paid. Others had paid for cars but couldn’t collect them. Strathclyde Police said: “We are investigating a number of complaints from the public about the Glasgow Motor Company. ” Detectives and plain clothes police searched the premises in Ralston, Paisley, on Tuesday.
Renfrewshire Council trading standards officers are also probing complaints from people whose cars were faulty.And it’s been revealed the council are owed £82,000 by Glasgow Motor Company for three years of business rates. A few staff had been left to handle customers. One said: “We’ve been told to refer calls to police.” Dad-of-two Doyle, 48, ran the showroom, which he took over in 2010, with wife Christina, 35, the daughter of former Labour MP David Marshall. Records at Companies House show Christina resigned as a director on June 15 – 10 days before the firm shut down.
On Friday, Campbell Dallas were appointed liquidators. The manager of Scots rock band Twin Atlantic, Andy Dunlop, is one client affected. Andy, 30, bought a second-hand BMW from Doyle six months ago for £2500 but the handbrake, power steering and engine were faulty. He arrived at the Glasgow Motor Company, having sent it back for repair, to find the car abandoned in a back garage. Dunlop said: “It was one of only a few cars remaining. It doesn’t look as if I will get my money back.”
In 2007, Doyle was jailed for eight months at Dumbarton Sheriff Court after he admitted defrauding 57 people of £89,000 at UK Vehicle Solutions Business, Clydebank. (Daily Record)
31 March 2013: Car fraudster sets up new business just nine months after last firm went bust
Luxury car fraudster James Doyle is back in business only nine months after his last firm went bust with debts of £190,000. In July, we reported how Doyle did a runner at his Glasgow Motor Company business in Paisley, leaving customers out of pocket and 13 staff out of work.
Now Doyle has set up a business called the Maryhill Motor Company in the north west of Glasgow. He advertises a range of cars, including an £18,000 Jaguar, a £19,000 BMW and a £60,000 Ferrari online through Auto-trader, using the name Jim Smith or Maryhill Motor Company.
We posed as a customer to meet 48-year-old Doyle, who uses the name Mr Smith on his new lot in the city’s Maryhill Road, near Partick Thistle’s Firhill ground. The new premises have no signs marking out his new venture –keeping him disguised from former staff and creditors. When we confronted Doyle about his latest business, he refused to comment.
One victim of Glasgow Motor Company Andy Dunlop, the manager of Scots rock band Twin Atlantic, was stunned when we told him that Doyle was back in business. Andy, 31, bought a second-hand BMW from the Glasgow Motor Company in January 2012 for £2500 but the hand-brake, power steering and engine were faulty. Andy said: “I find it astonishing that this man is still able to sell second-hand cars.”
When Glasgow Motor Company went bust in June last year, scores of cars, including Maseratis and Rolls-Royces, disappeared from the forecourt overnight. Customers had been sold faulty cars and were waiting for them to be fixed. Some had given the firm cars to sell but haven’t been paid. Others had paid for cars but couldn’t collect them. One creditor gave a car to Glasgow Motor Company to sell, never got the money or the car back, and was then landed with the existing HP payments.
Renfrewshire Council trading standards officers also investigated complaints of faulty cars. The council were also owed £82,000 by Glasgow Motor Company for three years of business rates. Doyle ran the showroom, which he took over in 2010, with his wife Christina, 36.
In 2007, dodgy dealer Doyle was jailed for eight months at Dumbarton Sheriff Court after he admitted defrauding 57 people of £89,000 at UK Vehicle Solutions Business, Clydebank. Strathclyde Police recently completed their investigation into Glasgow Motor Company. (The Record)
Now do you believe her assertion that she told the truth to the Lobbygate inquiry??? The end
(1). Nick Deluca, chairman of APCO, Beattie Media’s London partner, said his firm was suspending its partnership with the company pending an investigation.”In the light of the allegations which have been brought to our attention by The Observer , we are immediately suspending any relationship with Beattie Media as a matter of urgency.” More info: “http://www.teneobluerubicon.com/who-we-are/people/nick-deluca”
(2). Dunblane Massacre March 1996: Malcolm Robertson has nothing but happy memories of his school days. “It was a kind of idyllic childhood in many ways,” he says. “The gym [which was quickly demolished] was my gym. I can still see it clearly the way I remember it. You know what it’s like. When you look back, you remember the good times. In my memory, the sun was always shining in through windows.”On the day of the tragedy, Robertson remembers being pulled out of a meeting by someone who knew of his connection to the town. “Like everyone else, I just headed home; we sort of closed the doors. There was a horrible period when no-one knew exactly what had happened. But there was also a dignity. I would never try to articulate how the people most intimately affected felt, but amongst the people I knew there was a resolve to not let it beat us.”
George Robertson travelled to Dunblane with Scottish Secretary Michael Forsyth, the MP for Stirling. For the next few weeks, he acted as a spokesman for the victims’ families. “Listening to my dad’s speech in the House of Commons [the following day] was really difficult, one of the hardest things I had to do because he talked about us having gone to the school,” Malcolm Robertson says. As a child he had been pulled out of Hamilton’s boys’ club because several parents, including his father, were uneasy with the way in which it was being run. This led to an angry confrontation with Hamilton on the family’s doorstep. More info: http://www.scotsman.com/news/insight-dunblane-20-years-after-tragedy-1-4065815
Readers comment: And the report into this atrocity will be locked away for another 80 years. The report needs to be released immediately, no matter who in high places wants it to remain secret.
Two Labour political dynasties are to be joined today when the daughter of the late John Smith marries the son of Lord Robertson of Port Ellen, the former Secretary General of NATO.
Jane Smith, 32, and Malcolm Robertson, 31, are to marry on the Hebridean island of Islay, famed for its peaty malt whiskies and scenic beauty. The island has a special significance for both families. Lord Robertson was born on Islay and the family has a holiday home there. Miss Smith’s father spent the first two years of his life in Islay and the late Labour leader’s father once taught in the local school. Miss Smith’s sisters Sarah, 34, a news correspondent, and Catherine, 30, will be the bridesmaids at the ceremony to be held in St Kiaran’s Church. Mr Robertson’s nine-year-old son Michael (from his previous marriage) will be a page boy.
A handful of prominent Labour figures including Jack McConnell, Scotland’s First Minister, will be among the 150 guests. Miss Smith is the head of events at Napier University in Edinburgh and Mr Robertson is the head of Scottish public affairs for BAA. Mr Robertson said: “The fact that it is an island wedding means that the celebrations could go on for some time.” The event will be poignant for the Smith family coming one month after they gathered for a service marking the 10th anniversary of John Smith’s death.His widow Baroness Smith of Gilmorehill was joined by Lord Robertson and his wife Sandra at the ceremony on the island of Iona, where Mr Smith is buried. But read my 2015 post which exposing the hypocrisies of the Labour Party in Scotland: https://caltonjock.com/2015/04/01/people-of-influence-whom-you-hardly-know-sarah-smith-bbc-presenter-does-the-labour-party-leaning-show-do-pigs-grunt/
(3). PFI in Scotland Massive financial rip off of the Scottish nation organised and delivered to their financial masters by Blair, Brown and the rest of the Labour Party in Scotland. Full story here: https://caltonjock.com/2016/04/11/political-dogma-scottish-private-finance-project-awards-2000-2003-here-are-the-facts-of-the-debacle-damm-the-labour-party/
(4). Kevin and his dad appear to impervious to criticism. Father and son were at the centre of a row for threatening and intimidating witnesses who gave evidence to an inquiry by Elizabeth Filkin, the parliamentary standards commissioner, into the forbidden use of taxpayers’ cash for the benefit of the Labour party. She claimed that Mr Reid’s conduct amounted to “an attempt to frustrate my investigation”. The report contained an extraordinary tape-recording showing an increasingly irascible Mr Reid pressing witness Alex Rowley, the former general secretary of the Scottish Labour party, just before he was due to be interviewed by Ms Filkin on the scandal. Full story here: “https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2001/jan/26/uk.northernireland2” and here: “https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm200001/cmselect/cmstnprv/89/8914.htm” and here “https://caltonjock.com/2014/09/13/liar-liar-not-the-movie-just-john-reid-the-baron/” and here ” https://caltonjock.com/2014/09/15/john-wreck-it-and-run-reid-warts-plenty-of-them/”
(5) Ian Livingstone – Power broker North Lanarkshire from 1990. His career path: “http://www.uws.ac.uk/news—categories/corporate/former-chairman-of-lanarkshire-health-board-receives-uws-honour/”
(6) Tom Allison: Businessman and a non-executive director at Celtic:built a reputation as one of the most astute businessmen in Scotland, with a public profile to match. Clydeport is in its fifth year of profit rises and last September Mr Allison revealed the company’s ambitious 500 million plan to regenerate the River Clyde. More info here: “http://www.scotsman.com/news/man-electrocuted-after-night-out-1-942930”