RUTH Davidson has lost one of her front bench team in a cattle mart lobbying scandal.

Tory rural affairs spokesman Peter Chapman was forced to quit after he was caught asking councillors to back planning permission for a business he has shares in.

Davidson thanked him for his work and praised his “integrity”.

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The north east MSP owns a £50,000 shareholding in Aberdeen and Northern Marts (ANM) Group, 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 on the committee 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.

Chapman resigned four hours after the party discovered a copy of his voicemail to the SNP councillor had been handed over to the Daily Record.

“It was not my intention to hide this: indeed anyone can see the details of my investment on the Scottish Parliament register of interests,” he wrote in his resignation letter. “I can say hand on heart that my only thought was to support a local business and improve our local economy."

Chapman’s seems to have lost his job for little more than a £100 month. He would have made a maximum of £1250 per year.

Davidson said: “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.”

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 said: "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."

Chapman is not the first Tory MSP to get into trouble. Millionaire Alexander Burnett was sanctioned last year by Holyrood after he failed to register an interest when asking questions at the Parliament.

He was barred from lodging any written questions for two weeks after failing to mention a housing development in Banchory when he put forward five queries in August 2016.