THE Scottish Tories have written to the First Minister requesting that Jenny Gilruth be investigated over a potential breach of the Ministerial Code.

It comes after she was accused by Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross during FMQs on Thursday of breaching the code by delaying rail works in order to benefit her constituents while she was transport minister.

During a tense exchange, First Minister Humza Yousaf said the Tories were “throwing mud” and insisted her decisions were made to benefit the whole rail network.

The FM said a decision to delay works impacted on services in Dundee, Perth and Aberdeen, as well as Fife. Gilruth’s constituency is Mid Fife and Glenrothes.

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Ross has called for an investigation after the party submitted a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, which uncovered emails showing Gilruth had asked for the works to be postponed.

The row centres on proposed line electrification work between Edinburgh Haymarket and Dalmeny in West Lothian, which would have caused eight days of disruption from Boxing Day last year. The work has still not been carried out.

Ross claimed during FMQs that Gilruth “appears to have forced a change in order to give preferential treatment to her constituents at a higher cost to taxpayers and far more disruption to passengers”.

The FM said Ross was making “very serious accusations indeed” and there would be an “appropriate investigation”.

The National:

However, he said the situation was not as Ross (pictured above) described, adding the decision was made for the “correct reasons” in order to benefit the “entire network”.

Ross held up pages of emails received under freedom of information rules.

ScotRail officials told the Government the changes would lead to “greater cost, with more customers disrupted or inconvenienced with the revised access plan”, he said.

The FM said the works would have led to disruption further afield than Fife, and Gilruth had said she wanted more done to avoid more delays on the rail network over the festive period.

Ross said: “She should not even have been involved in this decision, she should have recused herself because of the clear potential for a conflict of interest.”

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The Scottish Tory leader suggested the “political interference” forced Chris Gibb to resign as chief executive of ScotRail Holdings.

Gilruth’s decision led to a poorer service, Ross said, and “looks like a clear breach of the ministerial code”.

The FM said: “What [Ross] is hoping to do, because he is undoubtedly desperate, is throwing as much mud as possible and hoping that some of it sticks.”

Yousaf added that Ross was being “selective” in his reading of the email, and it was “pretty clear” that Gilruth made the decision to minimise disruption for passengers across the network.

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Gilruth (pictured above) could be seen shaking her head and heckling Ross in the chamber during the exchange, and was chastised by Presiding Officer Alison Johnstone. 

Folllowing FMQs, Ross formally requested that Gilruth be investigated.

He said: “Having been told by journalists that the First Minister was waiting for a formal request before launching an investigation into a possible breach of the Ministerial Code by Jenny Gilruth, I have this afternoon written to him doing just that.

“In a rambling performance at FMQs, Humza Yousaf said he had investigated the issue prior to coming to the chamber and was satisfied Jenny Gilruth had done nothing wrong, before saying he’d be happy to investigate it further.

“Naturally, I am therefore concerned that the First Minister has already pre-judged the outcome of the investigation he’s agreed to hold. But it is very clear the serious issues raised around Jenny Gilruth’s conduct need to be fully investigated.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “The letter has been received and we will respond in due course.”

Elsewhere, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar accused the FM of “empowering” health board chiefs in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde (GGC) following a probe into the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital (QEUH). Sarwar called for the board of NHSGGC to be sacked.

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In 2017, 10-year-old Milly Main died at the QEUH after contracting an infection whilst being treated on a cancer ward, and in 2020, Scottish Government official Andrew Slorance died due to a fungus infection called aspergillus.

Sarwar said that the health board had rejected conclusions in the fifth provisional position paper of the inquiry into the deaths.

“The narrative is not accepted insofar as it sets out any link, whether explicitly or inexplicitly, between those infections and the water, drainage or ventilation systems at the QEUH,” the health board said in a report published by the inquiry on May 15.

It said the suggestion of increased risk by any of these systems was “not accepted”.

Families were “kept in the dark” and no-one has been held responsible, Sarwar said.

“We will hold the health board leadership absolutely to account in relation to the oversight recommendations that have been made,” the FM replied.