Alex Rowley will not return to his role as Scottish Labour deputy leader after a panel examining sexual harassment claims against him failed to complete its investigation.
The list MSP for Fife had referred himself to the panel after an ex-partner accused him of bombarding her with abusive messages over a three year period.
The matter was “discharged” today by the panel because Rowley’s former girlfriend had not allowed a statement outlining her complaints to be shared with him.
The Scotsman understands several attempts were made to try and get the unnamed woman to give consent for the full investigation process to be followed.
But her refusal meant Rowley did not have the opportunity to respond to her allegations. It has been reported that Rowley’s girlfriend had referred the matter to the police on two occasions, but no action was taken.
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has appointed Lesley Laird, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, as interim deputy leader. Leonard said Rowley would continue to play a role in Labour, but a party source said it was not known yet whether Rowley would return to the Holyrood front bench.
Rowley said: “Today, I have informed Richard Leonard that I do not intend to resume the role of Deputy Leader of the Scottish Labour Party.
“I am pleased the panel has discharged the case which I referred to them, but I am disappointed that they were unable fully to investigate – and I to have the opportunity to answer - the allegations, which relate to the acrimonious end to a relationship nearly five years ago. This means the only opportunity to do so would have been through the media and I am not prepared to cause that distress to my family.”
He added: “I am in politics to fight for social, political and economic change to improve the lives of working people. I will continue that work as a Labour MSP for the region of Mid Scotland and Fife.
Leonard said: “Following on from Alex Rowley’s decision to resign from the position of deputy leader of the Scottish Labour party, I have asked Lesley Laird to assume the position on an interim basis.
“I have spoken to Alex and for the sake of his family he has decided to step down from this important role. He informs me that it is a decision he made some time ago. He is a loyal and experienced member of the Labour Group in the Scottish Parliament and will continue to play a part in rebuilding the Labour Party in Scotland.”