Former children’s minister Mark McDonald is to seek help to address his behaviour after being forced to quit over “inappropriate conduct”.
The Aberdeen Donside MSP has been the most high-profile Scottish casualty of the sexual harassment row sweeping politics, having quit ten days ago.
Mr McDonald has not been seen at the Scottish Parliament, his office in Aberdeen or family home since resigning, but is expected to return to Holyrood today.
He quit the Scottish Government because he sent a text message to a woman that included a reference to a sex act.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has already said Mr McDonald’s “behaviour was about language not physical conduct”.
The SNP leader has insisted that while it was “right” for him to have left the government, he had not used “language that would come in anyway close to being something that would be required to be referred to the police”.
The married father-of-two made clear he “apologised unreservedly” for his actions.
“There is no question in my mind that in making my apology it was also right for me to resign from my role as a government minister,” he stated in a newspaper article yesterday.
“I need to go further than that though. For my apology to mean anything I must also commit to changing my behaviour and to taking more care in my actions and my language. I am determined to do that.
“I have been offered support through the SNP to help me understand more about the way I behaved, the impact it had upon others and how I can work to ensure my behaviour does change. I have accepted that offer of support.
“As has been said by many others, it is change in behaviour across the board which is the required outcome from this issue.”
The 37-year-old MSP said he would return to Holyrood after a “period of time supporting my family and serving my constituents”.
And he said it was for the people of Aberdeen Donside to decide if he should continue as an MSP in the next election in 2021.
Mr McDonald stated: “While there is clearly a public interest in my behaviour, I would ask that the privacy and welfare of my family, my staff and constituents visiting my constituency office are respected.
“Ultimately I will be judged by others on whether I can change my behaviour to meet the very high standards that people rightly demand of their politicians. I can only ask that I be given that chance.”
Opposition politicians have questioned why he has been allowed to continue as a MSP after quitting as a minister.
Ms Sturgeon defended the move as she came under pressure over the issue at First Minister’s Questions last week from Labour’s Jackie Baillie.
In his resignation letter to Ms Sturgeon, Mr McDonald said he hoped to return as a minister.
It emerged over the weekend that Mr McDonald had replaced his Twitter profile picture with a sinister shadow figure lurking beside a hedge. But the image was pulled in favour of a blank space after SNP officials were contacted by a newspaper. Mr McDonald, who had previously been a prolific user of Twitter, has not been on the social media platform since resigning.