Dear Sir

We are writing as the Scottish Government’s Agriculture Champions to correct some important inaccuracies in your interview with Mike Rumbles MSP last week.

Mr Rumbles criticised our work as not responding to his amendment to a parliamentary motion of 19 January 2017 on rural funding. His criticism is unfounded in a number of ways.

We were appointed by the Rural Secretary Fergus Ewing on 16 January 2017, before that debate and vote took place, making it an impossibility for our appointment to have been a response to it. Contrary to what Mr Rumbles said in the interview we were not appointed by Mr Ewing’s predecessor Richard Lochhead, though our work does follow on from an extensive public consultation that took place under his stewardship. Mr Rumbles even misrepresented his own amendment, which called for an advisory group on ‘rural support’ and not just on agriculture as stated in the article.

We explained all of this, and how our work fits in with other groups advising Scottish Government on rural policy, to Mr Rumbles and the other members of the Scottish Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity committee in an informal session with them which three of the four of us attended last month – the discussion which he misquotes in your interview. It was the committee’s idea that this should be a private discussion and we accepted the invitation in good faith. We are deeply disappointed not only that Mr Rumbles has misrepresented what was said, but also that he has chosen not to respect the nature of the discussion.

Yours sincerely

John Kinnaird, Marion MacCormick, Henry Graham, Archie Gibson

Scottish Government Agriculture Champions