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SNP defends Kenny MacAskill’s lockdown relocation – 170 miles from constituency

MacAskill lockdown
Kenny MacAskill MP.

The SNP has defended MP Kenny MacAskill’s two 500km round trips to visit his constituency from his second home in Banffshire.

The East Lothian representative confirmed he has been staying in his Speyside property during the second lockdown, brought into effect on December 26 last year.

The former justice secretary was spotted walking with his dog in Banffshire at the weekend.

The distance between the MP’s East Lothian constituency office in Dunbar and the area where Mr MacAskill is currently living is 170 miles.

Earlier this month the SNP member implored the constituents of East Lothian to “stay at home” following the implementation of restrictions.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has briefed the nation to not just follow the lockdown rules, but to remain “within the spirit” of them.

Mr MacAskill and the SNP insist he has done nothing wrong.

Scotland remains in the strictest of lockdown measures, including curbs on travel.

Under Scottish Government rules, people are only allowed to travel if it is “absolutely necessary”.

Travelling for holiday — in the UK, Scotland or abroad — is not permitted.

I want to stress this point – please stick to the spirit, not just the letter, of the rules.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in a statement on January 13 2021

These measures have been in place since December 26 2020.

It is understood the former justice secretary, who released Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset al-Megrahi on compassionate grounds in 2009, has a second property in the Speyside area.

He is understood to have worked from his Dunbar office as recently as Monday January 18.

‘Irresponsible behaviour’

Scottish Lib Dems leader Willie Rennie said: “As a former Justice Secretary, Kenny MacAskill must know that the law makers cannot afford to be the law breakers.

Willie Rennie.

“He cannot sit in judgement of Dominic Cummings and expect to escape scot free when he copies his irresponsible behaviour.”

Spotted on Ben Rinnes

A 65-year-old walker, who lives close to Ben Rinnes, told this paper he bumped into Mr MacAskill late on Saturday afternoon.

He said: “I was walking towards the car park when I saw a man I recognised.

“He looked quite nervous, I don’t think he was expecting anyone to see him.

“He scarpered down the hill after I asked if he was Kenny MacAskill, he left me playing with his dog for quite a bit, before he called down from close to his car for his pet.

“He then hopped in the car, with his boots on, which must have been wet as the mountain was covered in snow.

MacAskill lockdown
Ben Rinnes.

“I’ve never seen anyone look so guilty climbing a hill before.”

Ben Rinnes is around eight miles south west of Dufftown and is popular with hillwalkers.

‘Medical-related appointments’

A spokesperson for Mr MacAskill said: “Mr MacAskill has a house in Moray, as well as a flat in his constituency.

“He returned north before lockdown to be with close family at Christmas.

“He has remained there during continued lockdown other than two visits for medical-related appointments.

“On one of those occasions, he attended at his office to collect a set of keys stored there.”

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