The Scott Controversy: The Daughter: Family bond adds spice to row

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The Independent Online
ALL DAY, Victoria Scott raced from one television studio to another, one radio interview to another, rubbishing the Government's conduct as the guiding hand in the collapse of a Bill to end discrimination against the disabled.

As the co-ordinator of Rights Now, a coalition campaign group for the disabled, the 28-year-old former anti- apartheid worker has spent the past six months condemning the Government's underhand opposition.

But yesterday, her first salvo before 3.5 million listeners to Radio 4's Today programme took on a special poignancy. Nicholas Scott, minister for the disabled, was already under intense pressure to resign over his admission that he misled the House of Commons over his officials' role in the collapse of the Bill last Friday. He happens also to be Miss Scott's father.

Yet, throughout the day, she kept up her barrage of criticism, unwilling to soften her line on the basis that her professional duty demanded that she stood firm.

She did, however, shun calls that she join the chorus calling for his resignation, barred anyway by Charity Commission rules. She also attempted to de-personalise the affair, constantly referring to him as Nick Scott, or the minister, but conceded that the media interest for whatever reason was useful.

'If my relationship with my father helps get publicity for the campaign and gets the Bill spoken about, then I have no regrets on that score at all,' she said.

After a morning of patiently going through the affair many times, she had managed talk to Nick Scott, a couple of times on the telephone. 'He completely understands that I work for a disabled charity and that I wouldn't be doing my job for them and 6.5 million disabled people in this country if I didn't criticise the Government over this,' she said.

'I wouldn't want to do anything that personally put pressure on him, but in this case it's unavoidable. My job is to put pressure on the Minister of State of the day, whoever that happens to be.

'No matter what happens, though . . . it will not affect our relationship, which is a very good one. He recognises that we have to separate our personal and professional lives.'

Other than that Miss Scott, also a parliamentary campaign officer with the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation (Radar), skilfully used the platform their relationship afforded her to drive home the charities' anger over the Government's 'underhand' moves surrounding the Civil Rights (Disabled Persons) Bill, which ran out of time after 80 amendments tabled by Conservative backbenchers.

'There are wider issues at stake,' she said. 'This publicity has been misfocused. This Bill has been before Parliament since November. It calls for comprehensive civil rights for disabled people; rights that they have been denied, and are still being denied because of the Government's skullduggery. That's the real issue, not whether Nick Scott comes or goes.

'We are very, very angry. Disabled people are furious with what the Government have done to their Bill. If they wanted to oppose it openly, we were more than happy to meet them face-to-face and barrack them about their arguments, which we feel do not stand up to scrutiny.

'Instead they used underhand tactics.'

(Photograph omitted)

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