ONE of Ruth Davidson’s front-bench team has been forced to resign from his role after he was caught lobbying local councillors to back planning permission for a business he has shares in.

Peter Chapman, the Tory Rural Affairs spokesman, owns a £50,000 shareholding in Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) Group.

The group is currently developing a huge multimillion pound expansion of its operations at Thainstone, in Inverurie.

The proposals were in front of Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch Area Committee last week.

Chapman left a voicemail on the phone of an SNP councillor pleading with them to back the plans.

Though he introduced himself as a Tory MSP and rural economy spokesman he failed to mention he had a financial interest.

A copy of that recording made its way to the Daily Record. Four hours after they asked the Tories for a comment, Chapman had resigned.

In his resignation letter to Davidson, Chapman admitted he had made calls to several councillors without mentioning his connection to the ANM group.

Chapman said: "It's quite clear with hindsight that I should have made my financial interest in the phone calls clear and that it was a foolish oversight on my behalf not to do so.

"I failed to maintain the high standards of transparency that is expected of MSPs.

"As a result, I cannot in all conscience continue in post, hence my reason for offering my resignation."

He added: "It was not my intention to hide this: indeed anyone can see the details of my investment on the Scottish Parliament register of interests. I can say hand on heart that my only thought was to support a local business and improve our local economy."

Davidson responded by saying she accepted the resignation with “regret”.

She added: “I fully accept that you acted in this instance on behalf of your constituents to promote local employment – to no financial benefit to yourself – and it is a mark of your integrity that you choose to step down, rather than allow for any hint of impropriety.”

Chapman would have made a maximum of £1250 per year.

Scottish Labour’s Rural Affairs spokesperson Colin Smyth said there were more questions than answers in Chapman’s statement: “Rather than holding the SNP to account, the Tories seem more concerned with intervening in local issues to further their own interests."

A Scottish Greens spokesman added: "It's no surprise that a Tory has been found lobbying without declaring his financial interests, instead of serving his constituents.

"The party of landed wealth, cruel social policies and contempt for the Scottish Parliament is full of people who view being an MSP as a hobby rather than public service.

"No amount of shuffling of Ruth Davidson's pack will change that fact."