The Convener of the Crofting Commission walked out of a meeting of the Commission in Brora this morning. 

Shortly after the start of proceedings, Colin Kennedy closed the meeting and left.

The remaining Commissioners decided to continue with business and hold a special meeting to work through the agenda.

A motion was accepted at that meeting requesting the Convener to tender his resignation.

A statement apologising to crofters over recent grazings cases in Lewis and Lochaber was read out and the Commission will now formally respond to the Cabinet Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

The Commission stated: "The Crofting Commission wishes to apologise for the way it has handled recent grazings committee cases.

"Three unprecedented cases have been considered by the Commission under Section 47(8) of the Crofting Act and resulted in committees being put out of office.  The decisions taken by the Commission have created a poor result for everyone involved.  The actions taken in these cases did not enable communities to work together for the benefit of crofting and in fact have had an adverse impact on the crofting community.  The Commission acknowledges that the recent decisions have caused prolonged uncertainty and anxiety not only for the three communities involved but for all crofters, and for this we are sorry.

"The Commission continually seeks ways to ensure it is delivering in the best interests of crofters and will ensure that any lessons learned from the cases can inform future procedures and decision-making.  We will also continue to engage with Scottish Government to look at greater flexibility in crofting legislation.

"The Crofting Commission will continue to work alongside stakeholders to develop good practice guidance for grazings committees.  We would like to reassure crofters that as the regulator of crofting, our main focus continues to be securing the future of crofting through effective regulation and we look forward to working constructively with crofters, grazings committees and crofting stakeholders."

Reacting to the news, Scottish Crofting Foundation chair Fiona Mandeville said: “Surely now the convener will do what he should have done weeks ago – stand down and let the people who genuinely care about crofting get on with their work. So much time and energy has been wasted during this inexcusable debacle. We have had enough of Kennedy and want to see the back of him. By his action in walking out from the board meeting today and not meeting the Minister’s request for an apology, we take it that he has finally abdicated.

“We welcome the Commission board taking this decisive action at last and look forward to working with them to rebuild trust in the Commission and to developing strategies for crofting, taking up again all the positive initiatives which had been set aside while Kennedy was in control.

“We also naturally welcome the apology issued by the board after the convener’s departure.”