Statement expected on Scottish affairs committee row
I'm told the Labour Chief Whip, Rosie Winterton, will make a statement today on the ugly row currently engulfing the Scottish Affairs Select Committee - where SNP member Dr Eilidh Whiteford is accusing the chair, Labour's Ian Davidson, of "inappropriate and unacceptable conduct".
Mr Davidson is accused of threatening to give Dr Whitehead "a doing" if discussions in a private session of the committee were leaked to the media. And although, she says, he approached her afterwards to make clear he was not making a sexual threat, she's boycotting the committee while he remains in the chair. Mr Davidson is not commenting, but other Labour sources dismiss the claim as a smear.
MPs on the committee had rowed about a press release announcing a new inquiry into the "costs of separation" - an attempt to assess the costs and benefits of an independent Scotland. What started off as a mild spat about the word separation appearing in a slightly bigger typeface (an accident, apparently) appears to have escalated... The SNP's Westminster Leader Angus Robertson has been to the Speaker to complain, and members of the committee are now being interviewed about the incident.
This is, of course, not the first clash Mr Davidson has had with SNP MPs - they demanded his resignation when he attacked the "narrow neo-fascism of the Nationalists" during a debate on the Scotland Bill in June.
Mr Davidson is one of two Westminster MPs seeking the new post of Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, under a new constitution, expected to be agreed at a special conference in Glasgow this weekend.
UPDATE: Mr Davidson has now apologised. At today's meeting of the Scottish Affairs Select Committee he said no threat was made or intended.