Scottish Minister Mark McDonald quits over 'inappropriate behaviour'

A Scottish Government minister has resigned over past actions he said had been "considered to be inappropriate".

Mark McDonald, the SNP minister for childcare and early years, apologised "to anyone I have upset" as he stepped down from the role.

The MSP for Aberdeen Donside said previous behaviour he had thought "humorous or attempting to be friendly" might have made others uncomfortable.

It is understood the complaint is one of two made to the SNP about inappropriate behaviour, the second of which does not relate to a parliamentarian.

Earlier in the week First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon had warned men in positions of power in the party to reflect on their behaviour as allegations of sexual harassment reached Holyrood.

In his resignation statement, Mr McDonald, who was appointed a minister in May last year, said:

"It has been brought to my attention that 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.

"My behaviour is entirely my responsibility and I apologise unreservedly to anyone I have upset or who might have found my behaviour inappropriate.

"In light of my position in government, I believe it would not be appropriate for me to continue to serve in my role in the Scottish Government at this time and I have tendered my resignation as a minister.

"I hope that in taking this step neither any particular woman or my family will be the focus of undue and unwarranted scrutiny.

"It has been an honour to serve in the Scottish Government and I will continue to serve my constituents in Aberdeen Donside to the best of my ability."

Deputy First Minister John Swinney also warned men to examine their behaviour in a statement to parliament earlier this week.

A spokesman for the First Minister said: "Mark has taken the right action in apologising and recognising that in his current role it would be inappropriate for him to remain in government.

"He will continue to make a valuable contribution to parliament as the MSP for Aberdeen Donside.

As the Deputy First Minister told parliament earlier in the week it is right that men take responsibility for their behaviour and it is to Mark's credit that he has done so."

A Scottish Government spokesman said Mr McDonald tendered his resignation to the First Minister on Saturday.

He said: "The Education Secretary is responsible for all aspects of the education portfolio including those led by the minister for childcare and early years.

The First Minister will appoint a new minister in due course."

The claims of harassment in Scottish politics first emerged after human rights lawyer Aamer Anwar said women ranging from MSPs to interns had raised concerns about behaviour across the Scottish Parliament.

A confidential phone line was launched and an anonymised survey will be carried out to determine the extent of the problem at Holyrood, which said it was not dealing with any current cases.

The measures were announced after Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh held an urgent meeting with representatives from each party including Ms Sturgeon.

A Scottish Parliament spokesman said cases of inappropriate behaviour or harassment brought to the attention of officials over the last five years were ''in single figures'' and one historic case had been referred to police.

The Government said the number it had dealt with was similar and it is reviewing sexual harassment complaint procedures, as are the parliament and all political parties.

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