Former Scottish Government minister Mark McDonald made an emotional apology for acting inappropriately in his final speech at Holyrood.
Speaking during the debate on the Scottish budget’s stage three proceedings, the Aberdeen Donside MSP addressed the chamber.
McDonald was sacked from his position as children’s minister in 2017 after inappropriate behaviour, said to have included text messages, came to light.
Suspended from the party, McDonald resigned from the SNP and sat as an independent, before announcing last year he would not contend the seat again in May.
Speaking from a makeshift podium in what is usually the Scottish Parliament’s public gallery due to coronavirus restrictions, McDonald spoke of his accomplishments since being elected in 2013, including being the minister to introduce the baby box and advocacy for autism.
But he said: “I am, however, all too aware that none of those things will be foremost in people’s minds as I speak in this chamber for the final time.
“I recognise I have made poor decisions in my life and while I have never set out to deliberately cause upset to anyone, the fact people felt hurt and upset by my actions causes me immense regret and sorrow.
“While I apologised sincerely for those actions, I wanted to take the opportunity to do so in this chamber – I’m sorry.”
McDonald told the Sunday Times last year after he announced his intention to stand down that he twice thought about taking his own life in the wake of the scandal and was even admitted to hospital.
Speaking on Tuesday, he said: “I’ve learned a lot about myself in the last few years and I hope that I’ve been able to emerge as a better person as a consequence.
“It’s difficult to describe to have a version of yourself held up in front of you that you do not recognise as being a true reflection of your character, your values or your intentions.
“I can only ever hope that people will take me as the person I am now, not as the person I perhaps once was or have been portrayed as being.”
McDonald went on to thank those who had helped him, as well as his constituents.
With his voice breaking, McDonald said: “I’m grateful for the support I’ve had from friends, many of whom have known me since we were at primary school together, who have stood by me through the best and worst times of my life.
“I’m grateful for the love of my family, who pulled me back from the edge of darkness on more than one occasion.
“I’m grateful for the love and kindness of those in this building who offered it as I found myself in a difficult place.”