Sleaze-shamed MSP re­turns to Holy­rood

Fel­low politi­cians plan to ‘freeze out’ Mark Mcdon­ald

The Courier & Advertiser (Angus and The Mearns Edition) - - NEWS - Gareth Mcpher­son Po­lit­i­cal Edi­tor

MSPS in Tay­side and Fife are plan­ning to freeze Mark Mcdon­ald out of Holy­rood de­bates as the shamed politi­cian made his con­tro­ver­sial re­turn.

Sev­eral of Holy­rood’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the area also added to the clam­our for the sleaze-tar­nished MSP to step down from his £62,000 job for ha­rass­ing staff.

The Dundee Univer­sity grad­u­ate, who quit as a Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment min­is­ter last year, ad­mit­ted ex­ploit­ing his po­si­tion of power to pester women in the par­lia­ment fol­low­ing an SNP in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

The EX-SNP MSP faced a grilling as he en­tered Holy­rood for the first time since the scan­dal broke in Novem­ber.

In a press con­fer­ence at the par­lia­ment, the Aberdeen Don­side MSP “apol­o­gised pro­fusely and sin­cerely for any up­set I have caused”.

“I’m com­ing back to do the job that I was elected to do on be­half of my con­stituents, to rep­re­sent their in­ter­ests,” he added.

“I’m here to keep my head down… I’m not here to cause any up­set or an­tag­o­nism.”

Mr Mcdon­ald re­signed from the SNP last week fol­low­ing a party in­ves­ti­ga­tion, but has re­turned to Holy­rood as an in­de­pen­dent MSP.

He has faced re­peated calls to step down al­to­gether and some Courier Coun­try MSPS have said they would refuse to en­gage in de­bate with him in the cham­ber.

Wil­lie Ren­nie, the Scot­tish Lib­eral Demo­crat leader who has called on Mr Mcdon­ald to re­sign, said he would not take in­ter­ven­tions from him in par­lia­ment.

MSPS have dis­cre­tion dur­ing their speeches in the cham­ber over whether to ac­cept con­tri­bu­tions from other mem­bers, which are called in­ter­ven­tions and are vi­tal for en­sur­ing open de­bate.

How­ever, his Lib Dem col­league Mike Rum­bles, the North East MSP, said he thinks it would break Holy­rood rules to treat the ex-child­care min­is­ter dif­fer­ently from other MSPS.

Mr Rum­bles said: “I al­ways try to take in­ter­ven­tions in the cham­ber if I think they will be rel­e­vant to the de­bate and I have time to do so. To treat Mr Mcdon­ald oth­er­wise would be in my opin­ion to break the MSPS code of con­duct.”

Murdo Fraser, the Perthshire-based MSP for the To­ries, said Mr Mcdon­ald must re­sign.

“I can’t imag­ine a sin­gle MSP that would take an in­ter­ven­tion from him and that in­cludes me,” he added.

Alexan­der Ste­wart, a Tory who rep­re­sents Mid-scot­land and Fife, said Mr Mcdon­ald “should to the hon­ourable thing and stand down as an MSP”.

The SNP in­ves­ti­ga­tion found that Mr Mcdon­ald sent “in­ap­pro­pri­ate and un­wanted” mes­sages through text and so­cial me­dia to com­plainants, caus­ing them dis­tress. His be­hav­iour was “per­sis­tent” and in­volved an ex­ploita­tion of power, it con­cluded.

SNP MSP James Dor­nan has lodged a for­mal com­plaint with the Scot­tish Par­lia­ment over Mr Mcdon­ald’s re­turn, which de­tails the or­deal suf­fered by a fe­male mem­ber of staff.

Holy­rood’s stan­dards com­mit­tee is to de­cide to­mor­row on what steps to take. gm­cpher­son@the­

Pic­ture: Getty.

Mark Mcdon­ald MSP gave a state­ment in a con­fer­ence room on his re­turn to work yes­ter­day.

Pic­tures: Ge­orge Mcluskie/kim Cess­ford.

Lib Dem leader Wil­lie Ren­nie, left, and Tory MSP Alexan­der Ste­wart have both urged Mcdon­ald to step down.

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