Greens welcome Aitken's resignation

For immediate release 21 February 2011

Tory MSP Bill Aitken has resigned as Convenor of the Justice Committee for an interview he gave about a rape case, and following a motion in the name of Green MSP Patrick Harvie calling on him to quit. The Green MSPs today welcomed his decision as one which will help restore the reputation of the Parliament and the Justice Committee in particular.

Patrick Harvie MSP said:

"It was inevitable that Bill Aitken would have to go before he dragged the Tory leadership down with him. Sadly, his statement today is graceless to say the least, and suggests he still does not understand the offence he has caused. Treating a crime of this nature as an opportunity to laugh and blame the victim is not a 'misunderstanding', it's a failure of moral principle.

"This kind of attitude is unacceptable wherever it comes from, and is fortunately dying out, but it has been particularly shocking to hear it from the Convenor of the Justice Committee. Parliament needs to be a place where all crimes are taken seriously, not somewhere where rape victims feel the system is against them. It's time for the Committee to pick a new Convenor now, someone who can have the confidence of both Parliament and the Scottish public."

The motion in the name of Patrick Harvie reads as follows:
S3M-07974 - Unacceptable Comments by the Convener of the Justice Committee
That the Parliament condemns the attitude that it considers was shown by Bill Aitken MSP on the subject of rape during a recent interview with the Sunday Herald newspaper; considers that Mr Aitken’s comments during the interview betray a disregard for the seriousness of rape and imply support for the view that a victim can be held responsible for this most vicious crime; believes that this view, though disturbingly widespread, is rooted in misogyny and ignorance; considers these comments to be incompatible with the role of Convener of the Justice Committee; believes that the Parliament’s credibility to deal proactively with issues of sexual violence would be undermined if the proximity of dissolution resulted in failure to hold Mr Aitken to account for what it considers these odious and shocking comments, and calls for Mr Aitken’s immediate resignation.