Brian Inkster calls for investigation into Crofting Commission

Brian Inkster

Crofting law expert Brian Inkster (pictured) has called for an urgent investigation into the operation of the Crofting Commission after it made a  U-turn on their stance in respect of Mangersta Common Grazings. 

The Commission, said Mr. Inkster, no longer appear to be insisting that funds held by the grazings committee must be paid out to individual shareholders, the grazings constable has stepped down and the shareholders are free to appoint a new committee.

Mr Inkster, who represented members of the grazings committee who had been removed from office by the Commission, 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.”

He added: “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 investigated.”

Mr Inkster is of the view that the Crofting Commission and their Commissioners are answerable to the Scottish Government under and in terms of the Crofters (Scotland) Act 1993 and has produced a lengthy list of questions he believes need to be answered.

He said, “These are questions that the Scottish Ministers can no longer ignore following the recent Uturn 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.”