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15 November 2017, 14:48
Former Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale has called for the man who was her deputy to be suspended from the party after allegations about his conduct emerged.
Alex Rowley had taken over as interim Scottish Labour leader when Ms Dugdale dramatically quit the job in August.
Now he has stepped aside from that role and his post as deputy leader north of the border after a a former partner told the Scottish Sun newspaper that their relationship "felt like emotional blackmail and abuse".
Mr Rowley, who was election agent for former prime minister Gordon Brown and is an MSP for Mid Scotland and Fife, denies the allegations.
But the anonymous woman claimed he made her life "hell with his behaviour" and said she had been inspired to speak out after a number of other women made complaints about misconduct by politicians at Westminster and Holyrood.
Mr Rowley is the most senior person in the Labour Party to be affected by such allegations.
A Scottish Labour Party spokesman confirmed: "Alex Rowley has stood aside as interim and deputy leader of Scottish Labour and referred himself to the party's internal complaints procedure regarding allegations made against him."
But Ms Dugdale insisted the party should have suspended him while a probe into the "serious and deeply concerning" claims is carried out.
She stated: "Had I remained in the position of leader of the Scottish Labour Party I would not have hesitated to suspend Alex Rowley from the party while these allegations are fully investigated.
"Given the evidence published today the right course of action for the Labour Party to take would be suspension."
Ms Dugdale added: "Sexual harassment and abuse is never acceptable. If the past weeks have taught us anything it is that we need to support victims of abuse and all allegations need to be taken seriously and investigated in a fair and transparent way."
Voting is currently under way in the contest to find the next Scottish Labour leader, with the results of the ballot due to be announced on Saturday.
Left-wing MSP Richard Leonard, a former trade union organiser, is running against the more moderate MSP Anas Sarwar - Labour's health spokesman at Holyrood.
Ms Dugdale was the third Scottish Labour leader to resign in the last three years, after her predecessors Jim Murphy and Johann Lamont also quit.