Mrs Mary Fee, Labour MSP for the West of Scotland, resigned yesterday as convenor of the Scottish Parliament's Cross Party Group on ME in the wake of the row over whether the group should align itself strictly in future with those with a clear clinical diagnosis of M.E. or those with a diagnosis under the umbrella of ME/CFS.
In a letter to Carol Flack, the group secretary, Mrs Fee wrote:
I am writing to inform you of my decision to stand down as Convener of the Cross Party Group on M.E.
I have been considering this matter for some weeks now, however, the decision I have reached has been made somewhat easy for me as a result of the action of some members of the CPG in recent days.
I was very honest in my assessment of the CPG at the last meeting and therefore do not wish to reiterate my opinion here however I have been left stunned by the action of some individuals. I find this action totally unacceptable and feel that there is now no realistic chance of the group continuing in its current form as a result.
I therefore resign my position and I hope you will accept my reasons for taking the action I have today.
(Signed, Mary Fee)
In a covering note, Carol Flack told members of the group, which consists of 81 non-MSP members as well as Members of the Scottish Parliament:
It is with regret that I attach the following letter, from our Convener Mary Fee MSP, which I received this afternoon.
I should also add that on 8th October another of our MSP members, Elaine Smith announced her resignation from the CPG on M.E. following that of our Deputy Convener Siobhan McMahon.
According to reports, Mrs Fee's resignation follows a vote by members of the group which was overwhelmingly in favour for the use of “WHO ICD10 G93.3 neurological disease ME”. There were 30 votes in favour, five against and 12 abstentions.
Apparently, MSPs on the group objected to being tied down in this way and pointed out that the Scottish Government with whom they would have to deal would only accept the term ME/CFS.
A large number of non-MSP members then sent an open letter to the Parliament's Standards, Procedures and Public Appointments Committee stating that, if MSPs failed to uphold the vote, they would no longer have confidence in the convenor's ability to act for those with WHO ICD-10 G93.3 neurological ME.
Mr Neil Riley, chairman of The ME Association, commented today:
I was saddened to hear of the resignation of the convenor of the Cross Party Group on ME. It is vital that dialogue between patients and politicians occurs because politicians have the means to provide substantive help for patients. The Cross Party Group provides a forum in which MSPs can receive information on ME and advance understanding of it. I do hope that the members of the Group are able to find a way of re-opening a dialogue with the Scottish Parliament. If The ME Association can do anything to assist them on this then we shall.