A TORY MSP repeatedly failed to declare an interest in blood sports while attempting to water down hunting legislation, The National can reveal.

Rachael Hamilton, who part-owns a Borders hotel with strong links to the Lauderdale Hunt, sits on the committee responsible for scrutinising the Hunting With Dogs Bill, which was passed in January.

The Conservative MSP for Ettrick, Roxburgh and Berwickshire, who has previously faced questions about her links with hunting, has been described as one of the bill’s fiercest opponents – but at no point in her scrutiny of the bill did she alert colleagues or the public to the fact she benefits from her links with hunting.

The extent to which parliamentary rules actually require disclosure in these circumstances is controversial, but she is accused by the SNP of violating the spirit of the rules.

Hamilton part-owns the Buccleuch Arms Hotel in St Boswells – which is worth around £1.3 million, according to its most recent accounts – which regularly hosts supporters of the Lauderdale Hunt, including providing the setting for its supporters’ club annual dinner last March.

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The hotel – where rooms go for as much as £100 per night – also hosted a letter-writing workshop for Lauderdale Hunt supporters to aid them in writing letters of objection to the Hunting With Dogs Bill.

Holyrood’s Rural Affairs Committee, of which Hamilton is a member, was tasked with scrutinising the legislation as it passed through Parliament and met 10 times to discuss the bill.

Hamilton did not once draw attention to the fact she materially benefits from her links to blood sports as she discussed the bill, which closes loopholes in previous anti-hunting laws making the rules much tougher.

During the final stage of a bill’s scrutiny, MSPs are allowed to attempt to amend the legislation and Hamilton tried unsuccessfully to change the law to create exemptions for hunting with dogs in certain circumstances.

The MSP code of conduct requires members to declare an “interest” before speaking in debates or committee meetings if the subject of those discussions relates to their financial interest.

While the rules around declaring interests are fairly narrow, many MSPs take the spirit of the law to be broader than how it is set out in the code of conduct.

Tory MSP Finlay Carson, for example, at a meeting of the rural affairs committee on November 16 mentioned an “interest” as someone who had been on a shoot.

Meanwhile, her Conservative colleague Donald Cameron declared an interest during a debate on the bill because he is the owner of the Achnacarry Estate – the historic seat of the Clan Cameron – which hosts deer stalking trips.

The Buccleuch Arms Hotel also advertises deer stalking and game shooting on its website.

Hamilton made one reference to her register of interests – on which her involvement with the Buccleuch Arms Hotel is listed – but mentioned her interest in the hospitality sector, not specifying that the business also has links with bloodsports.

The SNP said her failure to be transparent about her links with hunting “falls foul of the spirit of the guidelines if not the letter” and said she should consider referring herself to the parliamentary standards watchdog.

A spokesperson for the party said: “Throughout the recent passage of the Hunting With Dogs Bill, Rachael Hamilton was one of the most outspoken opponents of the new measures.

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“That is entirely within her rights. However, despite her long association with the hunting community being very well documented, at no point did she declare an interest when her hotel business clearly benefits from hunting.

“It even hosted the Lauderdale Hunt supporters’ annual dinner last year.”

The spokesperson added: “The rules about making such declarations are in place to protect both the individual and the parliament to make sure there are no accusations of improper behaviour.

“Rachael Hamilton’s failure to declare her associations with hunting falls foul of the spirit of the guidelines if not the letter.

“She should consider referring herself to the parliament authorities on this matter.”

A spokesperson for the Scottish Conservatives said Hamilton had no case to answer.