RUTH Davidson has stepped down from her new PR job just days after it was announced following public anger over a possible conflict of interest with her role as an MSP.

The former Scottish Conservative leader confirmed yesterday she will not continue in the £50,000 salary role of senior adviser to Tulchan Communications, saying the “consensus” from “political opponents and commentators” was that it was “somehow incompatible” with her role as an MSP.

Forced to choose between the PR job and being an MSP, Davidson said she would choose being an MSP, although she highlighted she had checked with Scottish Parliament officials regarding potential conflict of interest before agreeing to take the job.

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The announcement of her second job caused widespread disapproval, with the director of PR professional membership body the PRCA, Francis Ingham, saying it was “simply wrong for lobbying agencies to employ legislators”.

Davidson announced her appointment last week as a senior adviser to the London-based PR firm for which she would have been paid £50,000 for 25 days’ work a year on top of her MSP salary of £63,579.

The National: Ruth Davidson was due to receive £50,000 for 25 days' workRuth Davidson was due to receive £50,000 for 25 days' work

After calls from opposition politicians to choose between the post and her political role, she said she and the firm have “agreed not to proceed with the appointment”.

In a statement yesterday Davidson said: “The debate in Scotland about my taking an advisory role with Tulchan Communications has become increasingly contentious.

“I, and Tulchan, have therefore agreed not to proceed with the appointment.”

She added: “I saw this role as an opportunity to help businesses improve their offerings to staff, raise standards in the supply chain, increase diversity and embrace environmental responsibilities.

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“I sat down with Scottish Parliamentary officials in advance to go through the code of conduct, in detail, in order to avoid any conflict and to ensure I would be working within the rules at all times. The role reflected this.

“The consensus view from political opponents and commentators is that working to improve businesses’ understanding of the cares and concerns of people is somehow incompatible with my role as an MSP.

“So if I am asked to choose between Holyrood and this role, then I choose the Parliament I have dedicated the last nine years to, eight as party leader, a decision Tulchan supports."

She said Tulchan Communications had behaved with “utmost integrity” and she is “sorry not to be working with them at this time”.

Fiona Hyslop, the Scottish Government’s Culture, Tourism and External Affairs Secretary, said: “Ruth Davidson is giving up the PR lobby job up not because she thinks she got it wrong – she is just blaming other people’s ‘perceptions’. Her continuing failure to acknowledge the problem compounds the long-held and prevailing view that Tories are self-serving.”

Senior partner with Tulchan Communications Andrew Grant said: “We share Ruth’s decision not to proceed with her role with us. It is a great shame as we believe that she would have encouraged business to be bolder in addressing the issues of concern to their stakeholders.”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay, who plans to lodge a Member’s Bill in Holyrood to ban MSPs from having second jobs, said: “After a week of refusing to budge, Ruth Davidson has finally reflected on the widespread anger which has been expressed across the Parliament and among the public at large. This is to be welcomed. There is a clear conflict of interest in an elected representative working for a company which lobbies politicians on behalf of corporate interests.”

He claimed accepting the job did “lasting damage” to Holyrood reputation and gives “a strong impression of politicians on the make”.

Findlay added: “If it is true that the parliamentary authorities approved Davidson’s job with a lobbying firm, then it just demonstrates that the rules are not fit for purpose.”