Jeremy Corbyn criticised after appointing fire-conviction peer to frontbench


Jeremy Corbyn has been criticised for appointing a peer who admitted putting lives in danger after deliberately starting a fire at a hotel to his frontbench.

Labour's new leader has given a job in his education team to Mike Watson, who pleaded guilty to a charge of wilful fire-raising when he appeared at Edinburgh Sheriff Court in September 2005.

The move was branded as "bizarre" by the SNP, which claimed it was proof Mr Corbyn was "scrambling around" to find people to fill the frontbench roles.

Lord Watson admitted setting fire to a curtain when he attended the glitzy Scottish Politician of the Year awards at Edinburgh's 17th-century Prestonfield House Hotel.

The flames destroyed a curtain and burned the curtain pole as smoke spread up over the walls and ceiling before staff managed to extinguish the blaze without fire crews being called.

An SNP spokesman said: "This is a bizarre appointment; it reflects how Jeremy Corbyn seems to be scrambling around for people to work with, which in turn is further proof of the deep divisions within the Labour Party."

But Labour defended the move, insisting the peer had now been rehabilitated.

A Labour Party spokesman said: "Lord Watson was readmitted to the Labour Party in 2012 and following his rehabilitation it is right he should be allowed to play a full part in public life."