MSP's sexual harassment suspension approved

27 June 2018, 17:23

mark mcdonald

MSPs have voted to temporarily ban former minister Mark McDonald from Holyrood after an investigation concluded he sexually harassed a woman.

The Aberdeen Donside member will be suspended without pay for a month between September 3 and October 2 after the summer parliamentary recess.

The sanction was approved by 101 to 0 with six SNP MSPs abstentaining in a vote in the Holyrood chamber.

Those abstaining were Colin Beattie, Willie Coffey, Linda Fabiani, Kenneth Gibson, Christine Grahame and John Mason.

It was recommended by Holyrood's Standards Committee after Mr McDonald was found to have twice breached the code of conduct for MSPs.

The independent MSP said he accepted the findings of the Commissioner for Ethical Standards in Public Life in relation to the two breaches and would abide by the outcome of the vote.

He stood down as childcare minister after allegations first emerged about his behaviour in November last year and later quit the SNP after an internal investigation.

The commissioner was asked by the committee to investigate Mr McDonald's conduct after SNP MSP James Dornan made an official complaint in March.

The investigation concluded Mr McDonald breached the code of conduct for MSPs by failing to treat one woman with respect and his conduct towards her "involved sexual harassment".

It also found he had failed to treat a second witness with respect "in relation to a financial matter".

However the commissioner found no evidence to support some of the allegations made.

Mr McDonald said the first breach related to the same matter he had resigned and apologised over - the sending of an inappropriate social media message to a female member of staff employed by another MSP.

But he said he did not accept the conclusion the message had constituted sexual harassment.

He said the commissioner's report had "disproved or disregarded the overwhelming majority of Mr Dornan's complaint".