NORTH EAST Conservative and Unionist MSP Peter Chapman has been re-appointed as the party's shadow cabinet secretary for rural economy.

Mr Chapman, who farms at Strichen and is a former vice-president of the National Farmers Union Scotland, was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 2016, having previously served as an Aberdeenshire councillor from 2007 to 2012, and became his party's rural affairs spokesman at Holyrood.

However, in May 2018, he resigned that rural affairs role over an issue of 'transparency'. It emerged that Mr Chapman had spoken to several members of Aberdeenshire Council’s Garioch Area Committee in support of a planning application from the Aberdeen and Northern Marts Group to expand its Thainstone Business Centre at Inverurie – but as a local farmer, he was a member of that co-operative, owning 50,000 shares.

While that investment was not linked to the company’s performance, meaning he did not stand to gain anything from the success of the planning application, he admitted that his failure to declare his personal interest in the application fell below the 'high standard of transparency that is expected of MSPs'. Accepting his resignation, then party leader Ruth Davidson said: "While I fully accept that you acted in this instance on behalf of your constituent to promote local employment – to no financial benefit yourself – it is a mark of your integrity that you choose to step down, rather than allow for any hint of impropriety."

Following Ms Davidson resignation as party leader last week, the Scottish Conservatives have announced changes to their shadow cabinet, bringing Mr Chapman back in to shadow the SNP's Fergus Ewing on rural economy.

“For more than 12 years, many parts of rural Scotland have seen the SNP decimate local services," said Mr Chapman. "I decided to stand as an MSP when I saw this happening in the North East. “I will continue to fight on behalf of Scotland’s rural communities and hold Nicola Sturgeon and her government to account.”

In other Scots Tory rural briefs, Edward Mountain MSP will speak on 'Rural Affairs and the Islands' and Finlay Carson MSP will speak on 'Natural Environment and the Digital Economy'.