Friday, November 29, 2002

Scottish Borders Councillor Alec Nicol charged with crawling for prostitutes in Edinburgh stands down ‘to clear his name’

Councillor Alec Nicol, a senior LibDem Councillor with Scottish Borders Council who featured in media reports last week as having been arrested & charged with kerb crawling for prostitutes in Edinburgh has announced he is ‘standing down to clear his name’, according to reports from the Southern Reporter.

Councillor Nicol told the local newspaper "I am innocent. I categorically deny that my presence in the Leith area was for any immoral purpose. I have done nothing of which I feel ashamed." after he had a meeting with solicitor Terry McNally, a partner in Stormonth Darling Solicitors, a corrupt Borders law firm based in Kelso made famous by one of it’s partners, Andrew 'Drew' Penman, who has been the subject of several investigations by the Law Society of Scotland involving alleged frauds involving people from the Borders wills & estates.

The Southern reports :

Nicol steps down for court fight

Published on Friday 29 November 2002 11:04

A SENIOR Borders councillor, who was stopped by police during a midnight patrol of a red light district in Edinburgh, has said he’ll fight in court to clear his name. Meanwhile, Alex Nicol has stood down as leader of the Lib Dem group on the council and has also relinquished his position as the council s education portfolio holder.

Council leader John Scott denied pressure had been put on councillor Nicol to step aside following last week s incident.

Councillor Nicol was stopped by officers in the Salamander Street area of Leith during a police crackdown. He was quizzed at the scene and then taken to Leith Police Station for more questions where he was formally charged with breach of the peace. The married councillor was later freed and is due to appear at a district court in the city on Wednesday.

And he has already indicated that he will fight the charge all the way and go to trial. In a statement, he declared: "I am innocent. I categorically deny that my presence in the Leith area was for any immoral purpose. I have done nothing of which I feel ashamed." Yesterday (Wednesday) he contacted The Southern after a meeting with Kelso-based solicitor, Terry McNally.

He told us: "I wanted to tell the world my motive for being there. I have a clear conscience but I have been told not to say much more at this stage." And he said he had agreed to say only: "I am keen to provide a full explanation, particularly to my constituents in my ward. However, my solicitor advises me this can be done at the appropriate time as I demonstrate my innocence of the charge."

Cllr Nicol will attend court personally accompanied by his solicitor to lodge a not guilty plea. Any trial is unlikely to take place until after the New Year. Councillor Nicol met with council leader John Scott and deputy leader David Parker last Thursday after details of his arrest late on Tuesday night became known.

It s understood his role within the ruling administration was discussed and he was told by the top two that they would stand by any decision he made. Councillor Scott told the Southern that no pressure had been put on the councillor to step down until after the allegations had been tested in court.

But The Southern understands that if he had decided not to quit then some members of the administration were ready to push for his resignation. Cllr Nicol told colleagues on the Lib Dem group of his decision to depart as leader and education spokesman at a meeting in the Buccleuch Arms Hotel at St Boswells on Sunday. He told them:"I have already declared that I am innocent of the technical charge of breach of the peace. I believe, however, that it would be easier for others if I was to step aside until such time as this matter is cleared up."

Depute group leader Norman Pender takes over as leader, He declared: "This decision was Alec’s alone. I respect his decision to step aside which I know he has made thinking of others."

He’s expected to be replaced as education spokesman by Peebles Councillor, Pat Smith. Her nomination from the ruling administration will go before the full council on December 12. But leader Scott said Cllr Nicol could make a return to the main fold. The leader told us: "There was no pushing Cllr Nicol went by his own decision. And if he is cleared, he will come back." Councillor Nicol continues to play a role on the council he’ll take Cllr Smith s place on the Scrutiny Panel.

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