Mark McDonald return may stop victims coming forward

Mark McDonald has returned to Holyrood as an independent
Mark McDonald has returned to Holyrood as an independent
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The return of sleaze-row MSP Mark McDonald to the Scottish Parliament could discourage future harassment victims from coming forward, Holyrood executives have warned.

The fallout from the case was described as a "danger" being taken into account by a team tasked with drawing up new policies on sexual harassment at the Parliament.

MSPs, along with their staff, are now to be offered training on sexual misconduct and the inappropriate use of "banter."

Read more: Mark McDonald to face fresh investigation

Holyrood's Standards committee heard evidence today on sexual harassment and inappropriate conduct. It comes in the aftermath of a staff survey which showed almost a third of female d workers had been harassed, while MSPs were blamed for about 45% of incidents.

Former Nationalist MSP McDonald has since returned to Parliament as an independent, despite accusations of non-physical harassment. He has admitted his behaviour fell below acceptable standards.

Read more: Holyrood considers power to sack MSPs after Mark McDonald case
Nationalist MSP Tom Arthur asked Holyrood Assistant chief executive David McGill at the committee today what impact a case like this sends out in tackling harassment.

"Do you think a scenario where an MSP can admit to sexual misconduct or sexual harassment and can continue to work in the Scottish Paraliament building - do you think that will hinder people coming forward to make a complaint?" Mr Arthur said.

Mr McGill said: I think there's every chance that that would be the case.

"I think you're asking us to make a value judgement here which is probably not appropriate for us to make. But that would be a danger that we would be taking into account when we would be looking at polices and speaking to people about what these policies should provide."