An Aberdeenshire councillor has been suspended by the Tories over non-payment of council tax – but insists he is only defying the system to highlight a mystery legal campaign.
West Garioch councillor Sebastian Leslie, the castle-dwelling father of Game of Thrones star Rose Leslie, was revealed in December to be thousands of pounds in arrears.
Until last week, he had not attended any council meetings for four months and is under disciplinary investigation by the party.
Last night he backed the disciplinary action but sought to explain his tax debts.
Confirming that he was now standing as an aligned independent, Mr Leslie said: “I understand why the party has taken this action – and I have no problem with this at all.
“I have been running a campaign against the degradation to the Scottish justice system of the SNP since I was elected and in order to raise publicity on this matter I have overstepped the mark and have gone slow on my council tax.
“I therefore accept that I need to be disciplined on that matter.
“I have submitted, some months ago, and my lawyers are in conversation with Aberdeenshire Council about releasing the full details of why I have run this campaign.
“Aberdeenshire Council have refused to release those details, which in my view should be released under the Freedom of Information Act.”
He said the battle had been going on for a decade but was not prepared to give further details at this stage.
Mr Leslie has attended 12 out of the 26 council meetings he was due at since being elected in May 2017.
A Scottish Conservative Party spokesman said Mr Leslie was being investigated for bringing the party into disrepute.
He added: “Councillor Leslie is currently subject to a disciplinary investigation. It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”
Leader of the Conservatives in Aberdeenshire, Jim Gifford, said Mr Leslie’s suspension would not affect the administration make-up.
He said: “Seb Leslie has been suspended by the party and that is a personal matter for him to resolve with them.
“That suspension has meant that he cannot continue to be a member of the Conservative group on the council so he has become an independent councillor and has chosen to align himself with the other aligned councillors in the administration.
“The administration numbers remain unchanged at 43 and we do not expect this to have any effect on membership of committees.”