Tuesday, January 21, 2020
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Brian Inkster

The war of words may be over but the row over the Crofting Commission’s handling of the common grazings issue appears to be rumbling on.

Specialist in Crofting Law, Brian Inkster, who has already commented in depth on the dispute has weighed in again following what he claims was a “massive U-turn” by the Commission. 

He said: “Common sense and an apparent recognition of the actual law on the matter have at last prevailed. The Crofting Commission has been at sea on the management of common grazings funds for some time. No one could fathom out how or why they dreamt up a policy that had no basis whatsoever in law or simple logic.

“This U-turn is great news for the shareholders in the Mangersta Common Grazings and the former members of their grazings committee. It is a complete vindication of the position correctly maintained by them throughout.

“It is also good news for common grazings committees throughout the crofting counties who should no longer fear the Crofting Commission insisting on them paying out monies that their shareholders wish to see applied for the benefit of township improvements.

“However, serious questions must now be asked by the Scottish Government about the handling of the entire matter by the Crofting Commission.

“There has been as good an admission as any that the Crofting Commission failed the shareholders of Mangersta. In so doing they failed in their regulatory duties and should be made to account for those failings.”

“These are questions that the Scottish Ministers can no longer ignore following the recent U-turn by the Crofting Commission. The Scottish Ministers must comment properly on them and, if necessary, take appropriate action under and in terms of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993.

“The only way that they will be able to properly pass such comment and take such action is following a focused and detailed investigation into how and why the Crofting Commission handled the Mangersta situation in the manner that they did.

“That case is no longer ongoing and is not subject to court proceedings. The Crofting Commission therefore cannot hide from, prevent or delay an investigation specifically focussed thereon. Fergus Ewing MSP, the Cabinet Secretary responsible for crofting, must now instigate just such an investigation for the future stability, survival and sustainability of crofting in Scotland.”

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