Why did Henry McLeish have to go when other MPs have survived worse

01:00 Fri 09th Nov 2001 |

asks Woolley:
Scottish first minister, Henry McLeish, resigned on November 8 over a row about expenses which was was turning into a police investigation.

Q. Why did the police get involved
When Henry McLeish was an MP in Westminster, he claimed the full �8,700 rent allowance for his constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife. However, he sub-let the office to number of different tenants without declaring the extra income this brought.

Q. Did he pocket the money
A. No - he spent the money on constituency arrangements. Even so, he paid back to the Commons fees office, from his own pocket, the �9,000 he had received from the law firm who were the latest tenants.

Q. What about the other tenants
Mr McLeish said he considered the matter closed and refused to answer any further questions about earlier sub-lets and what was done with the money.

He has only recently revealed that they paid a total of �36,000. He said he would pay back the money if asked by the fees office.

That's when it emerged that Fife police and the Inland Revenue were to investigate.

Q. Could he have survived this
A. Yes, say the experts - despite the planned Conservative-led motion of no confidence. However, he resigned before it could be brought.

Q. Did Tony Blair want him to go
No. Mr Blair asked him not to be hasty.

Q. So, what pushed him
Possibly the overwhelming bad publicity, topped by the news from his aides that yet another mistake had been made in the disclosures about his office expenses: there had been yet another sub-let, to a charity.

Distraught backbenchers claim that he has been persecuted by a media witchhunt.

Q. What happens now
There will be a potentially damaging succession battle for Labour's Scottish leadership, as the Scottish parliament looks for its third first minister since it was set up two years ago.

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