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First Minister cleared of any wrongdoing

ALEX Salmond has been cleared for the fifth time of any wrong-doing by the panel established to examine complaints about the First Minister – this time over inviting lottery winners Chris and Colin Weir to Bute House for tea.

Dame Elish Angiolini, an independent adviser to the Scottish Government on the Minis-terial Code, has rejected the complaint by Labour's Paul Martin who had argued that it was wrong to use a venue funded by the taxpayer to entertain SNP donors.

Dame Elish ruled: "Bute House is the designated official residence of the First Minister. The visit to Bute House was of a personal/party nature. Any such visit is expressly permitted by the Scottish Ministerial Code provided no resources are used from the public purse.

"The tea and biscuits were provided from the First Minister's private resources stored in his apartment at Bute House."

She said that as the code gave explicit permission to host personal or party events at Bute House, provided such events were not resourced from the public purse, the nature and substance of any discussions which took place were not relevant to the Code.

However, she added: "The First Minister has nonetheless indicated that there was no discussion about money or donations and confirmed that the visit took place in private with only the First Minister in attendance."

Mr Salmond thanked Dame Elish for her "typically balanced and clear report, the findings of which clearly demonstrate there was no impropriety".

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