(136)  Resignation of second First Minister

Henry McLeish intimated his resignation as First Minister in a speech to the Scottish Parliament on 8 November 2001.  He had been caught up for some months in controversy over claims for office expenses made in respect of his Westminster MP’s constituency office in Glenrothes, Fife, between 1987 and 1997, when the office had in fact been the subject of a series of sub-lets to a number of different tenants (including two firms of solicitors with close links to the Labour Party, Digby Brown and Thompsons).  Jim Wallace, the Deputy First Minister and Minister of Justice, took over for the second time as Acting First Minister.  Thereafter Jack McConnell, the Minister for Education, emerged as the uncontested candidate for leadership of the Scottish Labour Party and hence as the sole contender for the office of First Minister, in which position he was confirmed by the Scottish Parliament on 22 November 2001.  But this was not before Mr McConnell had confessed at a press conference, held on 13 November to clear the air”