Former minister denies claim he waited outside Holyrood for female worker

12 March 2018, 19:08

mark mcdonald

A former Holyrood minister has denied claims that he waited outside the Scottish Parliament for a female parliamentary worker.

The SNP's James Dornan has lodged a formal complaint over shamed ex-minister Mark McDonald's return to parliament.

Mr Dornan said the presence of his ex-party colleague would be a "clear negation" of the duty of care the Scottish Parliament has to its staff.

Mr McDonald quit his ministerial role and the SNP after admitting inappropriate behaviour towards women.

He intends to sit as an independent MSP for Aberdeen Donside, and is due to return to Parliament on Tuesday.

In a letter to the Standards Committee, Mr Dornan said: "In my view having Mr McDonald in the same workplace as his victims would be a clear negation of the duty of care that the Parliament has to all its members of staff."

He claimed he escorted a parliamentary staff member to a car outside Holyrood as she was "sure Mr McDonald was waiting for her".

He added: "As we left the building he was standing close to the exit, and I have no doubt he was indeed waiting for her."

The SNP MSP for Glasgow Cathcart said the woman later became "so unwell with stress" she had a stroke, a situation he claimed was "compounded" by Mr McDonald.

Mr Dornan said action must be taken to ensure staff members' safety and wellbeing.

Mr McDonald told STV News: "I refute any suggestion I was waiting in the parliament for the individual in question after an event, and refuted this during the investigation process.

"Similarly I have not been advised that my conduct was being linked to the specific health matter described by Mr Dornan either at the point of initial complaint nor at any stage of the investigation."

Mr McDonald faces mounting pressure to resign his seat after he quit his party and apologised last week.

An internal SNP investigation into allegations from three women identified "persistent" behaviour including inappropriate and unwanted text messages, unwanted attention and exploiting his position of power.

The married father-of-two had already resigned as childcare minister when the allegations first emerged in November.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon - alongside several MSPs and MPs - has urged him to leave Holyrood.

However Mr McDonald has insisted his return is "morally justified".

He told Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme: "Morally I can justify it because, as I have said, my approach to this has been to own the mistakes that I have made but to demonstrate that I have learned from them and that I am capable of changing as a result of those.

"I am asking people to afford me that opportunity, and I hope that people will do that."

A Scottish Parliament spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that the Convener of the SPPA committee has received a letter from Mr Dornan.

"It will now be for the Committee to decide how its wishes to proceed when it meets on Thursday."