HOLYROOD'S standards committee has sanctioned Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman for failing to declare a financial interest during an evidence session on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

Martin Whitfield, the Labour chair of the committee chair said the breach of the code of conduct was a "serious matter."

MSPs on the committee unanimously agreed to exclude Ms Chapman from one meeting of the parliament's Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee. 

The punishment followed a complaint by a member of the public that the Green should have mentioned that she had been the Chief Operating Officer of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre when her committee took evidence on the legislation from Rape Crisis Scotland.

Ms Chapman's register of interests notes that she worked for the organisation until June 2021, quitting after she was elected.

Even though she no longer works for the charity, the rules state that details of the employment should remain in the register until the end of the current Holyrood session.

Mr Whitfield said the committee had concluded that this was therefore a "declarable financial interest."

While Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre and Rape Crisis Scotland are different organisations, they work closely together. 

The centre in the capital is part of a network of 17 independence rape crisis organisations that Rape Crisis Scotland works with. 

In her question to Sandy Brindley, the Rape Crisis Scotland Chief Executive at the May , Ms Chapman asked specifically about "Rape Crisis Scotland network members."

Mr Whitfield said: "The Committee is of the view that even if Maggie Chapman MSP made an assessment that her declarable interest was not sufficiently related to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill which was the subject of the agenda item at the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee meeting, a declaration should have been made before pursuing a line of questioning that referenced the network of rape crisis centres which includes Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre."

He added: "The Committee believes that for those watching or reading the proceedings of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice Committee of 31 May 2022, a declaration by Maggie Chapman MSP of her declarable interest would have provided the transparency and openness that the standards regime requires in relation to Members’ interests."

In a statement, Ms Chapman said: "I acknowledge the decision taken by the Committee. I am disappointed that they came to this conclusion. 

“I have never sought to hide my previous employment with a rape crisis centre, which ended on 30 June 2021. This is published in my written Register of Interests and I also declared it at the first meeting of the Committee. 

“It is also clear that there could be no way in which I, or anyone else, could gain financially or otherwise from my engagement in Committee proceedings. 

“I simply, if mistakenly, did not view my former employment, which had ceased months before the Committee meeting, as being of enough significance to make further oral declarations.

“I appreciate the consideration of this matter by members of the SPPA Committee due to my omission to declare my past work supporting rape survivors. I will strive to avoid any such confusion in future. 

“While I acknowledge the one meeting sanction imposed, it is in my view unprecedented compared with previous considerations of complaints against other MSPs. 

“I apologise to colleagues who have to deal with it and thank them for their courtesy in considering this matter.”

Scottish Conservative shadow equalities spokesperson Rachael Hamilton said: “This represents a serious error of judgement from Maggie Chapman.

“She was surely fully aware that failing to declare her previous employment would represent a conflict of interest in relation to an evidence session on the gender reform bill.

“Breaching the code of conduct as a MSP is an extremely serious matter and I support the action taken by the Standards Committee against her.

“Maggie Chapman should apologise for her oversight and guarantee she will declare any relevant interests in the future, whatever issue is being discussed.”