A LOBBYING outfit which employs Lord Watson, the Scottish peer notorious for drunkenly setting fire to a hotel, is to help MSPs understand the Scotch whisky trade.

Devin Scobie and Andrew Scobbie, the founder and senior consultant respectively at Caledonia Consulting, who are no relation, are part of a new cross-party group on Scotch whisky being set up at the Scottish Parliament.

One of their firm’s associate directors is Lord Watson of Invergowrie, the former Labour MSP and culture minister who was jailed for 16 months in 2005 for wilful fire-raising at the Scottish Politician of the Year ceremony at Edinburgh’s Prestonfield Hotel the previous year.

The peer tried to set fire to some curtains, endangering the lives of hundreds of guests. He later pled guilty to fire-raising, claiming to have suffered an alcoholic blackout. He was released from prison in May 2006.

Watson, 62, who was ennobled in 1997 by then prime minister Tony Blair but now sits as a cross-bencher, teamed up with Caledonia Consulting in early 2007.

Scobie and Scobbie are among just three non-MSP members of the Holyrood caucus, which aims to promote “a better understanding of the Scotch whisky industry to members of the Scottish Parliament”.

Holyrood’s Standards Committee will be asked to ratify the creation of the group on Tuesday.

Mid Scotland and Fife Labour MSP John Park, the co-convener of the new whisky group, said he had been unaware of Lord Watson’s connection and would speak to Scobie and Scobbie about it.

He said: “We need to think very carefully about the types of people involved in cross-party groups. I will be speaking to them about this. Then I imagine the MSPs would have to a take a view on it if there was an issue there. Mike Watson is a high-profile individual.”

Devin Scobie said last night: “As far as I’m concerned it’s not a big deal. We are just going along as observers and the next meeting is not until February. Mike has not really done a great deal for the company this year full stop.”