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Professor who drew up Bill to advise on scrutiny

The senior Westminster civil servant who was in charge of drafting the Scotland Bill has been appointed to advise the Holyrood committee scrutinising the legislation, The Herald can reveal.

Jim Gallagher, who was appointed by Prime Minister Gordon Brown as Director General for Devolution three years ago, acted as secretary to the Calman Commission before adapting its findings into the Bill published by the Lib-Con Coalition Government on St Andrew’s Day.

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The Justice Ministry and the Cabinet Office were unable to say what his current Civil Service status was, but the Scotland Office confirmed last night that Professor Gallagher had retired just over two months ago to take up a post at Oxford University.

Now the former mandarin, whose most recent salary was given as in excess of £175,000, is to act as adviser to the Scotland Bill Committee chaired by Labour’s former leader Wendy Alexander, who is credited with starting the whole Calman process.

But questions are being asked around Holyrood as to how an independent cross-party committee charged with subjecting the Bill to critical scrutiny can do so properly if it is being advised by the civil servant who effectively drafted it.

Former external relations minister Linda Fabiani said: “It would be inappropriate for any committee to appoint someone who had a hand in the proposals the committee is scrutinising. That would contradict the very independent views advisers are supposed to bring.

“If this is true the adviser being recommended by the convener worked on the Calman Commission, the Bill and its financial package, then the committee is being sorely compromised.

“It would be deeply disappointing if opposition parties are determined to play politics with this legislation.”

One senior minister told The Herald: “Quite frankly, many of us find this whole development deeply disrespectful to Holyrood.”

Ms Alexander’s committee will take the Bill as far as putting it before Holyrood under a legislative consent motion giving Westminster the go-ahead to legislate. Parliament debated the broad issue yesterday and a Government amendment criticising aspects was heavily defeated by the main opposition parties.

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