McDonald urged to resign as new allegations emerge

Mark McDonald MSP, interview with P&J reporter David Proctor.    
Picture by Kami Thomson    12-03-2018
Mark McDonald MSP, interview with P&J reporter David Proctor. Picture by Kami Thomson 12-03-2018

Mark McDonald’s position as an MSP was branded “untenable” last night after it was claimed that a woman had to be escorted from Holyrood for her protection – and that she later suffered a stroke due to stress.

The SNP’s James Dornan wrote to the parliamentary authorities yesterday urging them to block the Aberdeen Donside representative’s return, insisting the “safety” of his employee and others was at stake.

In a formal complaint lodged with Holyrood’s standards committee, the Glasgow Cathcart MSP said he had seen “highly inappropriate” messages sent by Mr McDonald to his staff member, and witnessed his “unwanted attention” many times.

The letter also claimed that Mr Dornan had to leave an event early to “escort my staff member to a waiting car” because the former early years minister was waiting at the exit for her.

And he said that the harassment “compounded” the existing stress that the woman was suffering from before she had a stroke last year.

Last night Mr McDonald denied he waited for the woman in parliament and said he had not been advised that his conduct was related to a specific health matter during the investigation.

But Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie urged Mr McDonald’s family and friends to persuade him to resign as Aberdeen Donside MSP.

“Over the weekend, more shocking details of the toll his actions had on the women affected have gradually emerged. Retaining his position is untenable,” he said.

“I appeal to Mark McDonald’s friends and family to step in and advise him to stand down before he causes the victims any more distress or himself any more damage.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “These are astonishing allegations from an MSP which will shock voters, many of whom will wonder why they are only surfacing now.

“The allegations are extremely serious and must be fully investigated.”

Labour’s Rhoda Grant said it was “absolutely essential” that the SNP publish a redacted version of its investigation findings and hand it to police.

Mr McDonald said last night: “I have previously admitted the messages I sent were inappropriate, and subsequently resigned my ministerial position on November 4 , 2017, and apologised sincerely for any upset caused.

“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.

“I am advised the committee will discuss the letter on Thursday morning and I will await the outcome of their deliberations.”

Mr McDonald quit the SNP last week, four months after a probe was launched by the party into his conduct.

He vowed to return to Holyrood today to sit as an independent, and has been allocated an office in the basement until the Easter recess.