A SENIOR Nationalist has been reprimanded for failing to declare a financial interest in a rules breach that saw him reported to prosecutors for a possible crime.

Kenneth Gibson failed to make an oral declaration that he rented out his flat in Glasgow while chairing Holyrood's Finance Committee as it examined a new bill affecting landlords.

Mr Gibson tried to dismiss two complaints about him, saying one was "clearly malicious", and wrongly claimed the other came from someone "with obvious mental health problems".

But the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland, who investigated the matter, concluded the Cunninghame North MSP had indeed breached Holyrood's rules.

The commissioner found Mr Gibson also committed a potential crime punishable by a £5,000 fine, and submitted a report to the procurator fiscal.

However prosecutors said the alleged offence was "time barred from criminal proceedings".

In 2010 the commissioner found Mr Gibson failed to register the same flat on time, although no action was taken against him as MSPs accepted it was "an unintentional error". The commissioner's latest report was considered last week by Holyrood's Standards Committee, which unanimously agreed to admonish Mr Gibson, but did not impose a sanction.

Their report said: "The committee is unanimous in the decisions reached on the complaint. Firstly, it agrees with the findings in fact and conclusion of the commissioner.

"Secondly, it admonishes Kenneth Gibson for his failure to make an oral declaration of a registered financial interest. However, the committee does not consider that the breach justifies the imposition of sanctions on Kenneth Gibson on this occasion."

The MSPs said they had taken into consideration Mr Gibson declaring his interest in the parliamentary register, even though he had failed to declare it orally at committee.

The case dates from November 2015, when Mr Gibson was convener of the Finance Committee as it examined the Private Housing (Tenancies) Scotland Bill.

Mr Gibson was also the landlord of a £200,000 flat in Glasgow's Templeton Street, collecting up to £10,000 a year in rent.

MSPs must make an oral declaration if they have a declarable interest “before speaking in any meeting of the Parliament relating to that matter”.

Mr Gibson asked six questions, three related to the impact of the bill on landlords, including rent caps, although no issue went to a vote.

In May and June 2016, two men complained Mr Gibson breached the MSP Code of Conduct by saying nothing about his own status as a landlord, and the commissioner asked the MSP for a response. Mr Gibson said he saw no need to refer to his flat, as it was already recorded in writing.

He also attacked the motives of the complainers, one of whom also raised the 2010 complaint.

Mr Gibson said of the man: "His interest in me does not seem 'normal' nor is the detail he has gone into... to try to sully my reputation. He appears to be conducting a vendetta." Mr Gibson said the other complainer was "a man with obvious mental health problems".

The MSP last night admitted the latter claim "was just a mistake" and he had been thinking of another man with a similar name who had mental health problems.

Mr Gibson said the Holyrood complaints procedure was "a farce", with MSPs flouting the rules on declarations daily, and no consistency in who was ultimately found in breach of them.

He said: “I complete disagree with it [the decision]. It’s a complete farce. It’s more about [the Commissioner] justifying his existence than natural justice.”