A FORMER Labour minister breached Holyrood’s code of conduct for MSPs by failing to register a four-figure financial interest on time.

Sarah Boyack failed to record a final salary payment of up to £2,000 from her previous job after she re-entered parliament last year. 

Holyrood’s standards committee unanimously agreed with the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in Scotland today that she should have declared the cash in her parliamentary register of interests.

However it also said there should be no sanction as it was a “minor and inadvertent breach”, and Ms Boyack updated her register when it was brought to her attention.

The committee also agreed with the Commissioner that Ms Boyack did not breach the code of conduct by not declaring the money at a committee meeting.

Ms Boyack, who was a transport minister in the early years of devolution, failed to get elected in 2016, but returned last year via the Lothians list after former Scottish Labour Kezia Dugdale quit Holyrood.

In her time outside parliament, Ms Boyack, 59, worked as head of public affairs for the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations.

She left the post on 12 July 2019 and returned to parliament as an MSP on 15 July.

On 26 July 2019 she received “a final salary payment of between £1,001 and £2,000 representing the outstanding salary owed to me”.

Financial interests are supposed to be registered within 30 days, however Ms Boyack did not register the money untiil 1 May this year, more than nine months later.

In a statement to the standards committee this morning, SNP convener Bill Kidd said: “The Committee notes that this was a minor and inadvertent breach. 

“The complaint against Sarah Boyack was not related to a matter from which she could have gained any financial benefit and there was no attempt to conceal the information which Ms Boyack made available on the Parliament’s website. 

“Furthermore, she took steps to update her register when the Commissioner informed her that she had concluded a breach had occurred.

“In addition, there are not many examples of Members having registered remuneration received prior to their return as an MSP. This meant there was limited precedent to draw on which might have informed how the relevant rules should be applied in practice.

“Taking into account these considerations, the Committee has decided not to recommend a sanction on this occasion.

However, I would like to remind Members that the Committee will always treat seriously any failure by a Member to register interests in accordance with the Code of Conduct and the Members’ Interests Act. 

“It is the responsibility of each Member to ensure that they understand the requirements of the Code and the Act and comply with them. This is particularly important when Member complete the written statement of interests for the first time following their return as an MSP.”