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Friday, 17 November 2017

SNP suspends former Early Years Minister over fresh misconduct allegations

Written by Katrine Bussey

The SNP has suspended Mark McDonald after fresh allegations were made about the conduct of the former Scottish Government minister.

Party chiefs said they had made the decision after new information about the Aberdeen Donside MSP was brought to them in the last 24 hours.

It comes 12 days after he stepped down as Childcare and Early Years Minister after he admitted a separate incident of "inappropriate" behaviour

An SNP spokesman said: "Following new information being received by the SNP over the course of the last 24 hours relating to the behaviour of Mark McDonald, he has been suspended from both the parliamentary group and the party while further investigation takes place.

"In the interests of due process and appropriate confidentiality no further comment will be made."

As allegations of sleaze and sexual misconduct spread from Westminster to Holyrood, Mr McDonald was the first politician north of the border to be named in the scandal.

The married father of two resigned from the Scottish Government on November 4, with reports saying he had sent a text message to a woman which included a reference to a sex act.

He said at that time: ''Some of my previous actions have been considered to be inappropriate - where I have believed myself to have been merely humorous or attempting to be friendly, my behaviour might have made others uncomfortable or led them to question my intentions."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Mr McDonald's behaviour in that case was "about language not physical conduct'', with the SNP leader stressing while it was ''right'' for him to have left the government he had not used ''language that would come in any way close to being something that would be required to be referred to the police''.

Earlier this week he said he was "determined" to change and added: "I have been offered support through the SNP to help me understand more about the way I behaved, the impact it had upon others and how I can work to ensure my behaviour does change. I have accepted that offer of support."

Mr McDonald said: "I have not been advised of any details relating to the information received by the party but I stand ready to fully cooperate with any investigation into this matter.

"I will make no further comment at this time and would ask that due process be allowed to take its course and that the privacy of my staff and my family is respected and that they be allowed to go about their daily lives without obstruction."

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