THE Labour provost of Stirling was ignominiously stripped of the title yesterday after breaching a national code of conduct.

The move was thought to be a first of its kind in Scotland.

Tommy Brookes was also removed from Stirling's planning panel, its licensing board, Central Scotland police board, and Stirling Tourist Board, although he remains a councillor and JP for the time being.

Mr Brookes's fellow councillors sealed his fall from grace in a unanimous vote after hearing a report about his recent activities and alleged ''irregularities'' in a proposed (pounds) 395,000 land deal.

Last night, Mr Brookes, 62, who had been provost since 1996 and a councillor since 1984, apologised for his actions, but insisted he had acted honestly.

''I have nothing to hide,'' he said. However, he admitted using the council's S-class Mercedes to ferry him to a private meeting after drinking one lunchtime.

The internal council report claimed Mr Brookes became too closely involved in a bid last month by Tom Allison, chief executive of Clydeport and a non-executive director of Celtic FC, for seven acres of farmland. It said that as chair of the 377-year-old Cowane's Trust, which owns North Kersebonny farm, Mr Brookes ordered the plot to be valued while the trust manager was on sick leave.

The day after the valuation was complete, Mr Allison made his offer for it, at (pounds) 200,000 above the valuation.

The farm is an an area expected to soar in value in coming years because of suburban sprawl.

Mr Brookes and Mr Allison have known each other for a decade, since Mr Allison ran a chipboard plant in Mr Brookes's ward.

By instructing council staff to carry out the work, Mr Brookes was judged to have breached four paragraphs of the nati-onal code of local government conduct.

These relate to actions that could affect the reputation of the council; the appearance of impropriety; misuse of facilities; and responsible behaviour on an outside body.

Ironically, Mr Brookes remains on the Cowane's Trust as all Stirling councillors are automatically trustees.

Paul Nelson, one of the Tory councillors at yesterday's vote, said it had been ''extremely sombre'' and no councillor had spoken to Mr Brookes.

Mr Nelson added: ''It's a bad day for Stirling and an even worse day for the Labour party in Stirling.''

Last week, the ruling Labour group on Stirling Council removed the whip from Mr Brookes, and the national Labour party suspended him.

The council also reported the matter to the police.

Stirling Council currently has 11 Labour councillors and 10 Tories, and Mr Brookes's suspension leaves its control in the balance, as he is unable to stand for Labour at the May elections.

A spokesman for Mr Allison said: ''Mr Allison has already made it clear that he has behaved in an impeccable manner throughout this process. In fact, he very much looks forward to a speedy completion of the reports into this matter, which will fully substantiate his position.''