Salmond denies going "mental" at MP in gay rights row

Published: 18 Aug 2011 09:30

First Minister Alex Salmond denies claims from Dunfermline MP Thomas Docherty that he went "absolutely mental" at him during a visit to a local school.

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FIRST Minister Alex Salmond has hit back at allegations that he went "absolutely mental" during a visit to Dunfermline when put on the spot by the local MP about the gay marriage controversy.

The Press broke the story on-line about the bust-up between Mr Salmond and Dunfermline Labour MP Thomas Docherty, who asked the First Minister to condemn the "despicable and disgusting comments" of SNP MSP Bill Walker about same-sex couples.

There was another twist today (Friday) when Mr Salmond's special adviser contacted the Press saying the First Minister hotly disputed the claim that he lost his temper with Mr Docherty.

In fact the claim from Rosyth SNP councillor Douglas Chapman is that Mr Salmond was "the model of restraint" in the face of "juvenile", "crass" and aggressive" behaviour from Mr Docherty.

The incident happened in a private room well away from children, teachers and the gaze of the media covering the visit to the newly opened Carnegie Primary School.

Mr Salmond's special adviser released a statement from Councillor Douglas Chapman, chair of Fife education committee, who was in the same room as Mr Salmond and Mr Docherty during their exchange.

Mr Chapman said, "Any suggestion that Mr Salmond lost his temper is absolutely incorrect.

"I was in the room along with guests and senior council officers and nothing untoward happened, other than Mr Docherty's approach was totally inappropriate given that the focus of the visit was making children feel really proud of their new school.

"In fact, most people in the room were unaware of any supposed incident and Mr Docherty and his press office are guilty of pure fiction. If anything, it was Mr Docherty's inappropriate approach to Mr Salmond that was aggressive and the First Minister's response was a model of restraint.

"Mr Docherty's childish behaviour was questionable in raising a political issue at the opening of a new school, which was a day for the proud pupils, parents and teachers.

" Mr Docherty then left - presumably to prepare his fantasy press release - and didn't even have the good grace to stay to share the day with the children.

"These actions will be seen by many of his constituents as being not only juvenile and inappropriate but wholly crass and opportunistic."

Mr Docherty said, "If Douglas Chapman's happy putting his name to this statement for Mr Salmond that's fair enough but he was in the room and he knows what really happened."

Mr Salmond's refusal to condemn his party colleague's remarks has brought fresh criticism from a students' gay rights group.

Nathan Sparling, NUS Scotland LGBT Officer and a resident of Dunfermline said, "It is inexcusable for the First Minister to have refused to condemn Bill Walker's statements.

"The SNP should distance themselves from anyone who is trying to deny the LGBT community full equality, never mind comparing them to the Nazi's.

" Bill Walker has used his own personal views in these comments and is not fully representing his constituents, and I hope not representing the views of the SNP. Alex Salmond should join those of his colleagues that have condemned these types of views in recent weeks."

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