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Michael Goodall Watson, Baron Watson of Invergowrie, known as Mike Watson, (born 1 May, 1949) was a Scottish Labour Party politician. He was expelled from his party on 22 September 2005 following his conviction and imprisionment for fire-raising. He now sits as a crossbench member of the House of Lords.
Watson was born in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, but his family moved to Invergowrie, Perth and Kinross when he was very young. He was educated at the High School of Dundee and Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, graduating with a B.A. in Economics and Industrial Relations (1974).
Prior to entering politics he worked in the trade union movement, for the Workers' Educational Association, the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) and the Manufacturing, Science and Finance union (MSF).
Watson was elected to the Parliament of the United Kingdom in a 1989 by-election for the Glasgow Central constituency. He was re-elected in the 1992 election and represented that constituency until it was abolished in 1997. He sought the nomination from the Labour party to run for the Govan seat in 1997, but after initially winning the nomination by one vote, he lost a re-run to Mohammad Sarwar, after which Watson received a Life peerage as Baron Watson of Invergowrie, of Invergowrie in Perth and Kinross.
In 1999 he was elected to the Scottish Parliament to represent the Glasgow Cathcart constituency and was re-elected in 2003. On 20 July 1999 Watson announced his intention to introduce the Protection of Wild Mammals bill as a member's bill to the Scottish Parliament to outlaw fox hunting. The bill passed a vote 83 - 26 on 13 February 2002 and received Royal Assent on 15 March, becoming the Protection of Wild Mammals (Scotland) Act 2002 and becoming law on 1 August. This was a precursor to the Hunting Act 2004 banning fox hunting in England and Wales.
On 15 November 2004, Watson was charged with two counts of "wilful fire-raising" (the Scots law equivalent of arson) after a private reception at Edinburgh's Prestonfield Hotel following the Scottish Politician of the Year awards on 12 November. The first alleged that he set fire to a curtain in the hotel's reception, and the second that he set fire to a curtain in the hotel's Yellow Room. On being charged, the Labour whip was suspended in the Holyrood and Westminster parliaments. After initially registering not guilty pleas to both charges on 23 August 2005, on 1 September he changed his plea on the first count to guilty, and had a not guilty plea accepted on the second charge, though he claimed that as he had been drunk at the time, he had no recollection of the events. On the same day that Watson admitted his guilt, he resigned from the Scottish Parliament. He also resigned as a director of Dundee United Football Club.
However, it is not possible to resign from the House of Lords, which has led to calls for legislation to enable those peers convicted of criminal offences to be stripped of their titles. Such legislation was last proposed following the conviction of Jeffrey Archer for perjury in 2001, but was then rejected.
On 22 September 2005, Lord Watson was sentenced to 16 months' imprisonment. He will be prevented from standing again as an MSP, having received a custodial sentence exceeding one year. Sheriff Kathrine Mackie justified the sentence, stating that there was both "a significant risk of re-offending" and that Watson offered no mitigation or explanation. She also told Watson that consumption of alcohol "neither excuses nor fully explains your behaviour." Watson appealed against his sentence on 23 March, 2006 but the appeal judges refused to cut the term, and he was returned to prison.
After serving eight months of his sentence, he was released on 23 May.
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