The official regulatory body the Crofting Commission, is engulfed in a further row which has seen its convener walk out of a meeting and his fellow commissioners call for his resignation in his absence.

However Colin Kennedy says that the pressure he has been put under by the Scottish Government to ignore breaches of crofting law, has been to the detriment of his health. But he will not resign.

In his absence the Crofting Commission also issued a statement apologising to the local crofting communities, particularly on Lewis, following the long-running dispute over the management of common grazings’ finances.

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Mr Kennedy had been prominent in this wrangle, which had seen two local grazings committees sacked by the commission, and replaced by ‘constables’.

It was reported that last week Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and Connectivity. Fergus Ewing had told the commission to apologise for its conduct in the row.

The commission was meeting in Brora, Sutherland, yesterday and issued a statement: “Shortly after the start commission convener, Colin Kennedy, closed the meeting and left.

“The remaining commissioners decided to continue with business and hold a special meeting to work through the agenda. A motion was accepted at that meeting requesting the convener to tender his resignation.

“A statement apologising to crofters over recent grazings cases in Lewis and Lochaber was read out and the commission will now formally respond to the Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing.”

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The commission stated that the decisions which led to the sacking of the grazings committees “have created a poor result for everyone involved. The actions taken in these cases did not enable communities to work together for the benefit of crofting and in fact have had an adverse impact on the crofting community. The commission acknowledges that the recent decisions have caused prolonged uncertainty and anxiety not only for the three communities involved but for all crofters, and for this we are sorry.”

Mr Kennedy, who was one of the six commissioners directly elected by crofters, told the Herald “I have not resigned. My health has suffered in the recent weeks having been put under ridiculous pressure by the Scottish Government minister responsible, and his cohorts. They want me to sweep matters of crofting law under the carpet, because they are inconvenient politically. I refused to do that.”

But the chair of the Scottish Crofting Federation, crofters’ representative body, Fiona Mandeville said: “Surely now the convener will do what he should have done weeks ago – stand down and let the people who genuinely care about crofting get on with their work. So much time and energy has been wasted during this inexcusable debacle. We have had enough of Kennedy and want to see the back of him. By his action in walking out from the board meeting today and not meeting the minister’s request for an apology, we take it that he has finally abdicated.”

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She said she welcomed the commission’s “decisive action”.

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said:

“We note that the Crofting Commission Board has today issued a public apology about recent events. The Scottish Government will continue to work with the Crofting Commission and will monitor the situation closely.”

Mr Kennedy took over the convenership in May last year from Susan Walker, a commissioner appointed by ministers. She had resigned after being confronted by the prospect of a vote of no confidence in her leadership.