Mike Watson


Mike Watson

Michael Goodall Watson, Baron Watson of Invergowrie, known as Mike Watson, (born 1 May, 1949) is a former Scottish Labour Party politician. He has sat in three legislatures in the United Kingdom and served as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport in the Scottish Executive Cabinet.

He was expelled from his party on 22 September 2005 following his conviction and imprisonment for fire-raising. He now sits as an Independent Labour member of the House of Lords and is an Associate Director of the Edinburgh public affairs and communications company Caledonia Consulting.

Early life

Mike Watson was born in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, but his family moved to Invergowrie, Perth and Kinross when he was very young. He was educated at the High School of Dundee and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, graduating with a B.A. in Economics and Industrial Relations (1974).

Prior to entering politics he worked in the trade union movement, for the Workers' Educational Association, the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) and the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union (MSF).

In politics

He was elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in a 1989 by-election for the Glasgow Central constituency. He was re-elected in the 1992 election and represented that constituency until it was abolished in 1997. He sought the nomination from the Labour party to run for the Govan seat in 1997, but after initially winning the nomination by one vote, he lost a re-run to Mohammad Sarwar.

In 1997 he received a Life peerage as Baron Watson of Invergowrie, of Invergowrie in Perth and Kinross.

In 1999 Lord Watson was elected to the Scottish Parliament to represent the Glasgow Cathcart constituency and was re-elected in 2003. On 20 July 1999 Watson announced his intention to introduce the "Protection of Wild Mammals" bill as a member's bill to the Scottish Parliament to outlaw fox hunting. The bill passed a vote 83 - 26 on 13 February 2002 and received Royal Assent on 15 March, becoming the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 and becoming law on 1 August. This was a precursor to the Hunting Act 2004 banning fox hunting in England and Wales.

When Jack McConnell became First Minister in 2001, Watson entered the Scottish Executive as Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, until the 2003 election.

Fire-raising conviction

On 15 November 2004, Lord Watson was charged with two counts of "wilful fire-raising" (the Scots law equivalent of arson) after a private reception at Edinburgh's Prestonfield Hotel following the Scottish Politician of the Year awards on 12 November. The first alleged that he set fire to a curtain in the hotel's reception, and the second that he set fire to a curtain in the hotel's Yellow Room. On being charged, the Labour whip was suspended in the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments. After initially registering not guilty pleas to both charges on 23 August 2005, on 1 September he changed his plea on the first count to guilty, and had a not guilty plea accepted on the second charge. On the same day that Lord Watson admitted his guilt, he resigned from the Scottish Parliament. He also resigned as a director of Dundee United Football Club.

However, it is not possible for a life peer to resign from the House of Lords, which has led to calls for legislation to enable those peers convicted of criminal offences to be stripped of their titles. Such legislation was last proposed following the conviction of Jeffrey Archer for perjury in 2001, but was then rejected.

On 22 September 2005, Lord Watson was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment. He will be prevented from standing again as an MSP, having received a custodial sentence exceeding one year. Sheriff Kathrine Mackie justified the sentence, stating that there was both "a significant risk of re-offending" and that Lord Watson offered no mitigation or explanation. She also told Lord Watson that consumption of alcohol "neither excuses nor fully explains your behavior." Lord Watson appealed against his sentence on 23 March, 2006 but the appeal judges refused to cut the term, and he was returned to prison.

After serving eight months of his sentence, he was released on 23 May 2006.

Later life

In January 2007 Lord Watson was appointed as an Associate Director with Caledonia Consulting and continues to attend the House of Lords on a regular basis.

Bibliography

* Watson, Mike (1985). . David Winter & Sons, Dundee ISBN 0-902804-18-
* Watson, Mike (1992). Rags to Riches (updated version). David Winter & Sons, Dundee ISBN 0-902804-18-9
* Watson, Mike (1997). The Tannadice Encyclopedia. Mainstream, Edinburgh ISBN 1-85158-996-1
* Watson, Mike (2001). . Polygon at Edinburgh. ISBN 1-902930-26-6.

External links

* [http://www.eveningtimes.co.uk/hi/news/5032536.html MSP charged after blaze claims] - at Evening Times Online (published 15 November 2004)
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4204186.stm Peer pleads guilty to fire charge] - at BBC News online (published 1 September 2005)
* [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/4269808.stm Fire-raising peer sent to prison] - at BBC News online (published 22 September 2005)
* [http://news.scotsman.com/scotland.cfm?id=2387472005 Appeal announced on duration of sentence] - from The Scotsman Mon 12 Dec 2005 by John Innes


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