Former Scottish Conservative MP Ross Thomson has said he is considering legal action after he was cleared of sexual misconduct allegations.
He was investigated by the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards after former Labour MP Paul Sweeney said the Tory had “groped” him in a Westminster bar.
Thomson said the investigation “clearly showed” the claims were a “smear”, adding he has been through a “living hell with these false allegations”.
The Conservative, who ran Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign in Scotland, stood down as the party’s candidate for the Aberdeen South seat in November last year after Sweeney went public with the accusations.
Thomson said: “Evidence submitted to the commissioner by an independent investigator supported my view that the allegations levelled against me were both false and malicious.
“From the start of this ordeal I maintained that I was the victim of a smear and the 19-month investigation clearly showed this to be the case.”
He said he “complied fully with the investigation at every stage”, saying this was the case “even when it meant I could not defend myself publicly against damaging, distressing and false allegations”.
Thomson added: “While it is regrettable that I had to wait this long to clear my name, I am satisfied that that the independent inquiry was both extensive and robust.”
Sweeney has the right to appeal to an independent expert panel, with the commissioner’s office saying it would be “inappropriate” to comment or publish its report before a final conclusion has been reached.
Thomson, who was one of 13 Scottish Conservative MPs elected in the 2017 general election, confirmed he is now considering legal action.
He said: “The last two years have been a living hell with these false allegations, triggering a barrage of unfair headlines and unrelenting abuse on the street and online.
“I was forced to give up the job I loved, making myself and my office staff unemployed.
“Furthermore, my reputation has been irreparably damaged by these lies.”
He added: “I would like to thank former Conservative, Labour and SNP colleagues at Westminster for supporting me throughout this nightmare and for ensuring the truth came out.
“I am currently exploring all legal avenues and I look forward to drawing a line under this ordeal and finally moving on with my life.”