Dewar's Fury at Irvine Claim to Parliament Act

Article excerpt

Byline: HAMISH MACDONELL

FIRST Minister Donald Dewar was furious over moves by Lord Irvine to claim credit for the establishment of the Scottish parliament, a new book has revealed.

The fractious relationship between the pair is detailed in Dominic Egan's biography about the life of Lord Irvine to be published later this week.

Rumours of strained relations between the Cabinet colleagues was further compounded by the publication of memoirs by Janet Jones, the wife of Ivor Richard, who was leader of the House of Lords in Tony Blair's first year in office.

She has talked of how both men found it increasingly difficult to work with each other and how their mutual dislike over a 25-year period was swept under the carpet to preserve party unity.

It is claimed by Mr Egan that the First Minister was incensed at learning how Lord Irvine had taken credit for the introduction of the Scotland Act.

Lord Irvine was Mr Blair's legal mentor and close friend, but was also Mr Dewar's most bitter rival after his wife Alison left him for Lord Irvine more than 20 years ago.

Relations between the two have since been cordial but never friendly, but the extent of their dislike for each other has largely been kept hidden until now.

Mr Egan's book reveals Lord Irvine was never a team player, particularly so with Mr Dewar.

He wrote: 'Much to the annoyance of Donald Dewar, Irvine would like to boast he wrote the Scotland Bill.' The memoirs written by Lady Richard tell a no-holds-barred story of Derry Irvine and his relations with other Cabinet members.

But it also discloses the depths to which the Lord Chancellor's relationship with Mr Dewar had sunk.

Lord Irvine and Mr Dewar were colleagues at Glasgow University in the Fifties, but fell out over the marriage split.

In her diary, Lady Richard records on June 26, 1997 how Lord Irvine's heavy-handed approach was not going down well with Cabinet colleague. …