A SCOTTISH Greens MSP has been sanctioned by a committee after she was found to have breached Holyrood’s code of conduct. 

A complaint was lodged with the standards committee after Maggie Chapman, the Scottish Greens MSP for the North East, failed to declare a registered interest during a session of the Equalities Committee on May 31 2022. 

Martin Whitfield, Labour MSP and convener of the Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments (SPPA) committee said that the issue was a “very serious matter” and members of the committee voted unanimously to impose a sanction on Chapman. 

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Chapman said she accepted the committee's findings, but said the sanction was "unprecedented" in comparison to the outcome of other complaint investigations into MSPs. 

The complaint centered around a session of the equalities committee last year when it took evidence from Rape Crisis Scotland on the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. 

Chapman did not declare her registered financial interest of her former position as chief operating officer of Edinburgh Rape Crisis during a session where she questioned the CEO of Rape Crisis Scotland. 

The Scottish Greens MSP has the interest declared on her register but did not orally raise it at the beginning of the committee session in question.

Chapman’s punishment is that she will be barred from attending one meeting of the equalities committee.

The National: Chapman failed to declare a financial interest it has been foundChapman failed to declare a financial interest it has been found

"The committee has concluded that this declarable financial interest was declarable in the context of the meeting of the Equalities, Human Rights and Civil Justice committee on the 31st of May 2022, because the proceedings of that committee were related to that financial interest," Whitfield said at a meeting of the standard's committee on Thursday morning.

"The committee notes the commissioner's findings on the similarities in the support provided by Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre and Rape Crisis Scotland and the link between these two organisations. 

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"The committee considers it is relevant that Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre is one of the network of 17 independent rape crisis centres with which Rape Crisis Scotland works, and that Maggie Chapman MSP referred to Rape Crisis Scotland network members at the Equalities Human Rights and Civil Justice committee on the 31st of May 2022."

Whitfield added that the commissioner found that both Rape Crisis Scotland and the Edinburgh centre are “in the same industry” and have the “same general aims”. 

However, Whitfield added that Chapman had said in her written evidence to the committee that the two are distinct entities.

He said: "The committee is of the view that in keeping with the principles that underpin the code, the member should not just take into account their own view in the assessment of whether a declaration relates to the committee proceedings, but also considers whether the fair-minded and impartial observer would consider that the declarable interest could influence the member or give the appearance of prejudicing that members ability to act impartially. 

"The committee considers that a person watching or reading the proceedings might reasonably consider there to be a connection between the two organisations.

"A declaration should have been made before pursuing a line of questioning that reference the network of rape crisis centres, which includes Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre."

Responding to the decision, Chapman said that she was “disappointed” by the committee’s conclusions and said the sanction was “unprecedented” compared to punishments metered out to other MSPs.

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“I have never sought to hide my previous employment with a rape crisis centre, which ended on 30 June 2021,” Chapman said. 

“This is published in my written Register of Interests and I also declared it at the first meeting of the Committee. 

“It is also clear that there could be no way in which I, or anyone else, could gain financially or otherwise from my engagement in Committee proceedings.”

Chapman said she had “simply, if mistakenly” not viewed her former employment, which ceased prior to the meeting in question, as being of “enough significance” to declare it during proceedings. 

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“I appreciate the consideration of this matter by members of the SPPA Committee due to my omission to declare my past work supporting rape survivors. I will strive to avoid any such confusion in future,” she added. 

“While I acknowledge the one meeting sanction imposed, it is in my view unprecedented compared with previous considerations of complaints against other MSPs. 

“I apologise to colleagues who have to deal with it and thank them for their courtesy in considering this matter.”