Independent MSP Mark McDonald has announced he will quit Holyrood before next year’s election, two years on from being found to have sexually harassed a woman who worked at the parliament.
The Aberdeen Donside MSP was forced to quit as childcare minister and was suspended from the SNP after allegations of sexual misconduct first surfaced in November 2017.
In 2018, the parliamentary watchdog ruled he had sexually harassed an employee of fellow MSP James Dornan by sending inappropriate social media messages.
He faced several calls to resign as an MSP, including from his former party leader Nicola Sturgeon.
In a statement on Thursday, McDonald said he accepted his tenure as an MSP “will forever be defined by the mistakes I have made”, adding he had paid “a significant and lasting price”.
He continued: “When I returned to parliament in 2018, I made it clear that I would demonstrate through my conduct that I had reflected upon the errors of judgement I had made in my interactions with people, where I had misunderstood how the power dynamics as a government minister, or MSP, could lead to interactions being perceived differently by those who I had regarded as friends or colleagues.
“I hope that I have been able to demonstrate such change.
“I will have to live forever with consequences of those mistakes and the upset that they caused, and it is appropriate for me to reiterate here the apologies I have made before. I continue to seek to make right the things I got wrong.”
McDonald added: “I am also acutely aware that any election campaign in which I played a part would be one which would focus far less on the important issues which affect the communities I represent, and would instead be one defined around my presence.
“I believe the constituents and communities of Aberdeen Donside deserve a range of candidates whose sole focus is on how they can improve the life circumstances of those they represent, and while that is the primary motivation which I have to do the job, I recognise that for it to be a reality I cannot be one of those candidates.
“After speaking to those closest to me to make them aware of my decision, I am taking the opportunity to formally announce that I shall be stepping down from parliament at the 2021 election.
“I shall continue for the next twelve months, as I have done since my first day in the job, to represent the communities of this constituency to the best of my ability, and I look forward to continuing to meet constituents and organisations to enable their voices to be heard.”
He is the latest to announce plans to step down as an MSP ahead of the Scottish Parliament next May, joining former Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson and six SNP MSPs, including current constitutional relations secretary Michael Russell.