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Ayr SNP official probed over claims of ‘threatening phone call’ to new business

An SNP official is under investigation after claims he made a threatening phone call to a new business owner.

Ian McPherson, a staffer for Westminster MP Allan Dorans, admitted making a “terrible error of judgement” in his call to Ayr painter Craig Hainey.

It followed the opening of Mr Hainey’s new business in Ayr’s North Harbour, to which he had invited Tory MSP Sharon Dowey.

He then claims to have received a call from McPherson asking why Ayr MSP Siobhian Brown had not been asked along instead.

Mr Hainey, who has opened Pro Paints, claims McPherson warned him: “I hope this doesn’t affect your business”.

The SNP worker this week admitted making the call and said he had been “trying to clear up confusion between list MSPs and MSPs”.

He also admitted offering Mr Hainey £50 after the Ayrshire Post had got in touch over the allegations.

But McPherson insisted: “I went into the shop to speak to Craig and apologise.

“I am really, really sorry. I wanted to go in and explain that I am struggling right now with a difficult situation.

Pro Paints boss Craig Hainey

“I offered £50 to put to a charity of his choice.

“I explained why I called, I just wanted to clear up the confusion between the difference between list MSPs and MSPs.

“There was no ill feeling intended, we need new businesses.

“I just felt that a new business in Ayr should have the MSP for Ayr at the opening.

Ian McPherson has previously stood for election to South Ayrshire Council
Ian McPherson has previously stood for election to South Ayrshire Council

“I wanted to (as a member of the public) point that out. I completely regret everything.

“It was a terrible error of judgement, I really do wish Craig all the success with his shop.”

Paint shop boss Craig had told the Ayrshire Post how he received the call from McPherson after the newspaper covered the shop’s official opening.

Craig said: “When he called I was really unnerved by the whole thing, it made me feel really uneasy.

“I have no doubt that it was a threatening phone call.

“To phone up in an aggressive tone and say, ‘I hope this doesn’t affect your business’.

Tory MSP Sharon Dowey at the opening of the new business
Tory MSP Sharon Dowey at the opening of the new business

“I sat back after the call and thought…who does he think he is to phone me at 8.15am on Wednesday and say that?

“I’ve just opened a new business in the community, I’m putting into the local pot and to be threatening towards that is the opposite of what any party should do regardless of the way you voted.”

Craig claims he then received a personal visit from McPherson nine days after the call in which he was offered money.

It came less than 24 hours after the Ayrshire Post had been in touch with the SNP worker.

Ayr SNP official probed over claims of 'threatening phone call' to new business

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Craig added: “I told him to keep the money and get out of the shop.

“It was nine days after he first called the shop – if he felt that bad about it why come down now?”

The office of Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock MP, Mr Dorans, has confirmed a probe is now underway into the incident.

MP Allan Dorans has confirmed the matter is being investigated
MP Allan Dorans has confirmed the matter is being investigated

His spokesman said: “Ian McPherson is employed by Allan Dorans MP on a part-time basis.

“He deeply regrets his actions and realises that he made an error of judgement and has apologised.

“This matter is being investigated as an employment issue.”

Ayr MSP Ms Brown said: “It is entirely up to any local business to decide who they wish to invite to their official opening.

“I am supportive of all local businesses and I wish Pro Paints success and well in the future.”

Mrs Dowey, the Tory MSP for the South Scotland, said: “As an Ayr resident, I was delighted to attend the opening of Craig’s new business and wish him well.

“It is disappointing to hear what has since transpired and politics should not come in to the supporting of new trade in our town.”

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