Cabinet secretary and veteran Scottish nationalist, Fergus Ewing MSP, has apologised to a government official who made a recent allegation of bullying against him, The Ferret understands.
Sources say that Ewing has been the subject of “at least one” complaint of bullying, but that it was resolved informally under the government’s guidance for handling complaints by staff against ministers.
The Scottish Government did not deny that Ewing had been named in bullying allegations. “We would not comment on any matter raised if it is resolved informally,” said a Scottish Government spokesperson.
The government pointed out that within current and previous procedures “where appropriate” there was an opportunity for concerns to be raised and matters resolved by agreement between the parties.
Ewing was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 and has been re-elected four times, representing Inverness and Nairn. He was appointed minister for community safety by First Minister, Alex Salmond, from 2007 to 2011.
From 2011 to 2016 he served as minister for business, energy and tourism under Salmond and his successor, Nicola Sturgeon. In May 2016 he was elevated to the cabinet as secretary for rural economy and connectivity.
Fergus Ewing is the elder son of the famed nationalist, Winnie Ewing. Known as Madam Ecosse, she won a crucial by-election for the SNP in Hamilton in 1967, seen by some as a historic turning point for nationalist fortunes. She went on to become an MEP and an MSP and was SNP president from 1987 to 2005.
Fergus Ewing’s sister, Annabelle Ewing, was the MP for Perth then MSP for mid-Scotland and Fife and then Cowdenbeath, and served as a minister from 2014 until June 2018. Fergus’s wife, Margaret Ewing, was an MP and then MSP for Moray until her death in March 2006.
Now aged 61, Fergus Ewing was educated at Loretto School in Edinburgh, graduated in law from Glasgow University and ran his own legal practice. “After decades of bagging Munros, completing marathons and serving as a member of Lomond Mountain Rescue Team,” says his official ministerial profile, “he now engages in more sedentary pursuits such as the piano, listening to jazz and doing crosswords.”
In 2015 the south Scotland SNP MSP, Joan McAlpine, complained privately to First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, about Ewing’s support for plans by the Duke of Buccleuch to mine coalbed methane at Canonbie in Dumfries and Galloway. Ewing’s support for developing underground gas akin to fracking was damaging the government’s credibility in communities across Scotland, McAlpine said.
The Scottish Government is currently investigating complaints by two women alleging they were sexually harassed by Alex Salmond when he was First Minister. Salmond has denied any wrongdoing, and is taking the government to court claiming that its internal investigation into the allegations was flawed.
Cover image thanks to Scottish Government.