The Scottish Crofting Federation (SCF) has welcomed the news that Cabinet Secretary Fergus Ewing has told the Crofting Commission to apologise to crofters for their behaviour over common grazings, and has launched a review of the Commission.

“It has taken a long battle to get to this point”, said SCF’s Chair, Fiona Mandeville, “but it is extremely good that it is reported that Mr Ewing has made clear his support to crofters by directing the Commissioners to issue a full, unequivocal, public apology for their mistreatment of common grazings committees. This whole episode has been badly damaging to individuals, to crofting communities and to crofting itself, so we hope an apology may be the first step in a healing process.

“As the person who seems to be behind the on-going attacks on crofting committees, it would be appropriate for the Convener of the Crofting Commission, Colin Kennedy to give the apology in his resignation statement.”

The BBC were told last night that Mr Ewing had held a meeting with the Commissioners yesterday in which he made it clear that a full public apology was expected of them. The Commissioners meet next week for a board meeting.

Ms Mandeville continued, “SCF has been asking for a review of the Crofting Commission, to look critically at its procedures and governance. The news that Mr Ewing has instructed government officials to carry out a review is very promising. This situation must be prevented from happening again by modifying the way the Commission works. It makes no sense at all that the Convener was involved in local meetings, and was making personal statements regarding grazing committee business. Acting as some sort of maverick lawman is not appropriate. The board of the Commission should be, as any board, for strategic direction and governance.

“And as for Kennedy’s imposed, and lawyers say illegal, henchman, Constable Souter, he must be removed from Upper Coll immediately,” Ms Mandeville concluded. “He has no place in crofting, is aggravating bad feeling and is standing in the way of democratic process”.