FORMER boxing champion Alex Arthur has announced he is to stand as an MSP for the forthcoming Scottish election in Alex Salmond’s newly formed Alba Party.

Arthur won a gold medal for Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth Games and was crowned WBO Super Featherweight World Champion in 2008.

Now the boxer has thrown his hat into the ring of politics, as the latest MSP to stand as a candidate for Salmond’s pro-independence party, and will be standing on the regional list in Lothian.

Arthur said: “I have had the rare privilege of winning a gold medal for Scotland before reaching the top of the world in my professional career.

“I backed the Yes campaign in 2014 and I am joining the Alba Party as a candidate to help deliver a supermajority for independence in the Scottish Parliament.

“Standing on the podium in front of a Scottish Saltire was one of the proudest moments of my life. If a super featherweight world champion can help deliver a supermajority, I can’t sit on the side lines.

“As part of a supermajority of MSPs delivering Scottish independence, I will bring to the Parliament a focus on sport in our working-class communities to ensure that in the recovery from the coronavirus no young person is left behind.

“It is so important that we inspire the nation as we recover from the Covid pandemic, and put health and wellbeing at the centre of all our communities. I know what’s possible with hard work and inspiration.

“There is massive talent all over Scotland and I will dedicate myself to making sure that talent has the support needed to inspire our recovery and to maximise their potential. There are champions everywhere.”

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Over the weekend, Neale Hanvey followed East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill in joining the newly-formed operation.

Women’s convener Caroline McAllister, depute leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, and equalities convener Lynne Anderson, a councillor in North Lanarkshire, also revealed they had left the SNP to join the Alba Party.

Meanwhile, last night’s speculation was continuing to mount on whether MPs Douglas Chapman and Angus MacNeil might be joining their Westminster colleagues MacAskill and Hanvey in switching to Salmond’s new party.

Chapman was first elected to Westminster as MP for Dunfermline and West Fife in 2015, and took on the key role of party national treasurer in November last year. He is known to be close to MacAskill.

Chapman is currently a member of the SNP’s finance and economy policy group and is the party’s shadow small business and innovation spokesman.

The National repeatedly tried to contact Chapman over whether he is moving to the Alba Party but he did not respond to our inquiries.

An aide told us he could not help us with the inquiry and put the phone down when we asked if what we had heard was true.

Earlier this month it was reported Chapman told a party meeting that there was £1.5 million in party coffers for the election campaign and £600,000 for referendum planning.

At the same meeting members of the party’s finance and audit committee demanded to see the party’s full accounts.

Insiders told a Sunday newspaper that three members of the committee resigned when Peter Murrell, the SNP’s chief executive and husband of the First Minister, refused.

According to sources, the three members who resigned from the SNP committee were Frank Ross, an Edinburgh councillor and former Lord Provost, Allison Graham of Mid Scotland and Fife, and Cynthia Guthrie, a company director – who is now a member of the Alba Party.

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One insider told The National that more high profile SNP politicians would be announcing a move to the new party in the coming days.

Asked if these would include MPs, the source said: “I would say so, yes.”

The deadline for all the party’s election candidates is tomorrow evening.

The Alba Party did not respond to inquiries regarding Chapman.

An SNP source said he believed the Fife MP was out campaigning.