McConnell for president

Documents obtained by Scotland on Sunday under Freedom of Information legislation have revealed that Scotland's First Minister, Jack McConnell, wanted to "transform his official residence into a West Wing-style political hub" but this was "slapped down" by the building's trustees.

The Bute House Trust, which administers Bute House, an 18th century building in the heart of Edinburgh's New Town, imposed a "one civil servant" limit for the Georgian property. They feared that it risked becoming a new headquarters for Scottish Executive staff, in breach of the rules governing its use and said it was alarmed by the prospect of it becoming a base for officials.

After Jack McConnell became First Minister in November 2001, he signalled that he wanted to make more use of the building, including using it to host receptions and policy planning meetings. He made it known that he preferred the residence to the more formal surroundings of St Andrews House - the main HQ of the Scottish Executive.

Scotland on Sunday reported: "Insiders have compared the use of the residence to the US political drama The West Wing, in which a part of the White House is a hive of political activity, and say that civil servants, including political advisers, spent long sessions working from the building."

Trust vetoes McConnell's West Wing dream for Bute House (Scotland on Sunday, 5 March 2006)