The Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park authority has been accused of a “cover-up” over the resignation of one of its leading members for failing to declare shares in a £200 million gold mining company for more than two years.
Internal documents seen by the Sunday Herald reveal that Owen McKee resigned as vice-convener and chair of the planning committee in December. This followed his admission that he had bought more than half a million shares for close to £12,000 in Scotgold, an Australian company that is planning to dig for gold under a hill at Cononish near Tyndrum in the national park.
After “serious concern” from fellow board members about the “reputational risks” to the park, he decided to sell his shares hours before a meeting due to discuss arrangements for considering the gold mine. He remains a member of the park board and planning committee.
Board members were repeatedly warned to keep what had happened secret, and were not given the full report of an internal investigation into McKee’s shareholdings. “This matter is highly sensitive and confidential and is not in the public domain”, they were told by park convener, Linda McKay, in December.
Outdoor campaigners allege that the park authority deliberately tried to hide the reasons for McKee’s resignation from the public, and have lodged a complaint with the ethical standards watchdog. The authority is “not fit for purpose”, its leaders should be suspended and a government investigation launched, they say.