Government secondments: Wightman raises conflict of interest

Scottish Green MSP Andy Wightman has highlighted a serious conflict of interest as ministerial answers reveal that the head of policy of lobby group NFUS is advising a Scottish Government department.

Ministerial answers show that in the last year there have been 82 secondments to the Scottish Government, the vast majority of which have been from other public bodies.

Andy said:

"There is widespread concern about our future relationship with the EU and there are a range of voices on the way forward for food and farming. The preferential treatment shown to the NFUS by the Scottish Government with this secondment is surprising and unprecedented.

"The Cabinet Secretary for the Rural Economy and Connectivity has attempted to normalise this arrangement but as the answer makes plain, lobby groups are not routinely seconded with only a small level of private sector legal and communications expertise having been sought since the beginning of 2016. It is unacceptable to have someone who, in their day job, lobbies Scottish Ministers on behalf the NFUS, spending the rest of the week at the heart of government contributing to public policy.

"The NFUS is dominated by the wealthier farmers in Scotland and its views do not represent the interests of the people of Scotland in relation to food and agricultural policy.

"Now that a light has been shone on this prima facie conflict of interest, I hope the Scottish Government will admit that this arrangement is both unprecedented and wrong."